UK property construction industry agrees to introduce voluntary code of conduct

House builders in the UK have agreed to form a body to deliver a code of conduct and redress for new home buyers.

Responding to pressure from the Office of Fair Trading which has seen the number of complaints soar, they are working towards new rules that are expected to be introduced in March 2010.

An investigation by the OFT found that buyers of new properties are regularly facing problems such as delays in moving in, faults in new homes and issues over reservation fees.

The investigation into the house building sector also found a lack of clarity in information provided to homebuyers and potentially unfair terms and conditions in contracts.

'We have concluded homebuyers need more protection when buying a new home and we have worked hard with the industry to help it develop a new approach to self-regulation that will improve consumer protection,' said John Fingleton, OFT chief executive.

It gave the industry an ultimatum. Failure to provide such a scheme, or for the scheme not to work, will lead the OFT to bring in statuary body to oversee homebuilding with powers to fine firms failing customers.

But some would like to see regulation go further. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has responded to the report by calling on the government to introduce a single redress and complaints body for the entire property market in the UK.

'We urge the government to join up property regulation and redress to avoid the problem of confusion for consumers faced with numerous schemes for property transactions,' said Gillian Charlesworth, director of external affairs.