Under the Code, Home Builders are required to have a system for dealing with complaints. However, if a Home Buyer is not happy with their response, they should contact the Home Warranty Body no later than 12 months after the Home Builder’s final response to the original complaint. The Home Warranty Body will either deal with the complaint under the terms of the warranty or provide the Home Buyer with an application form and a set of the Adjudication Rules so that the complaint can be referred to the Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme.
The Home Buyer can refer their complaint to the Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme only after 56 calendar days have passed since first raising it with the Home Builder and no later than 12 months after the Home Builder’s final response.
Details of the participating Home Warranty Body covering the property can be found on the Reservation agreement:
The Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme is run by CEDR Ltd, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution: www.cedr.com
Disputes are resolved using an adjudication process. During this process, a trained Adjudicator reviews written submissions from both parties and issues a decision based on his or her conclusions. They will decide whether or not a Home Buyer has a legitimate dispute and has suffered financial loss as a result of their Home Builder failing to comply with the Code Requirements.
However, it is for the Home Buyer to prove that there has been a breach of the Code and if making a claim for financial loss suffered, this must be evidenced.
More detailed information will be issued by the relevant Home Warranty Body with each application for adjudication.
Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme Adjudication Process
If, after considering the time limits mentioned above, a Home Buyer decides to refer a complaint to the Independent Disputes Resolution Scheme, the following adjudication process happens.
- The Home Buyer must complete an application form and send it to the Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme with their statement of evidence and a case registration fee. The Home Buyer’s statement must contain all the information relevant to the complaint and identify the Consumer Code Requirement(s) they allege has/have been breached. The Home Buyer must also provide copies of receipts or other evidence of expenditure if making a financial claim.
- The Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme will ask the Home Builder to respond to the Home Buyer’s statement. At this stage the Home Builder may resolve the complaint without a formal adjudication – this is called ‘early settlement’ and costs the Home Builder a reduced case fee.
- If early settlement does not happen, the Home Builder must submit their response to the Home Buyer’s statement along with a payment of £300 plus VAT(1). The Home Buyer will be given a copy of the Home Builder’s response and asked to respond if they wish. At this stage, the Home Buyer may not make any further new complaints about this adjudication.
- The Adjudicator will consider both submissions and decide whether or not the Home Buyer has suffered financial loss as a result of the Home Builder’s alleged failure to comply with the Consumer Code. Both parties will be expected to have acted reasonably and to have controlled their costs.
- The Adjudicator will make a decision and send it to both parties. The decision may be a performance award (where the Home Builder has to do something) or a financial award (where the Home Builder has to pay the Home Buyer money) or a combination of the two. The maximum value of the combined award available under this adjudication scheme is £15,000 including VAT.
- The Adjudicator may make a discretionary award for inconvenience, up to a maximum of £500. They will do so if, in their sole consideration and opinion, the Home Buyer has been caused more than minor inconvenience as a result of the complaint and/or how the Home Builder handled it. The Home Buyer may not receive an award for inconvenience alone if the Adjudicator does not find a breach of the Code. The Home Buyer may not receive an award for emotional upset and stress as awards will be judged as a matter of fact and on the resulting financial loss. The £15,000 maximum award includes any award for inconvenience.
- The Adjudicator will also decide whether or not the Home Builder must reimburse the Home Buyer their case registration fee. This will be in addition to the award referred to above.
- The Adjudicator’s decision cannot be appealed; it can only be accepted or rejected by the Home Buyer.
- Under the rules of registration, the Home Warranty Bodies require each registered builder to honour any award made against them under the Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme. If the Home Buyer accepts the award, the courts will usually recognise this as evidence that the Home Buyer’s claim was valid.
- If the Adjudicator makes a financial award and the Home Buyer unconditionally accepts it in writing, the Adjudicator must give the Home Builder written notification of this. The Home Builder must pay the award to the Home Buyer within 20 working days of the date of the Adjudicator’s written notification.
- If a Home Buyer refuses to accept the award, any subsequent legal action is likely to take account of the adjudication decision.
- A Home Builder remains liable for an award, even if they are removed from a Home Warranty Body’s register.
Please Note: This Code’s Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme is independent of the Home Warranty Bodies. Adjudication decisions made under the Scheme are not insured under the Home Warranty Bodies’ Home Warranty Schemes.