‘Returning’ a faulty new home – what rights does a property buyer have?

How to ‘return’ a faulty new home

You’d take back a faulty toaster or a pizza with the wrong topping. Here’s what to do if you move into a new-build with problems

4th July 2014

by Felicity Hannah

Buying a home is a challenging business at the best of times. You’ll need cash for a deposit, solicitors’ fees, money to cover moving costs, and probably a mortgage fee too.

As a result of a number of Governmnent schemes and developer incentives, many people opt to buy a new build – buyoed by the belief that the homes won’t require any additional money in improvements or repairs.

These purchases might initially seem better value for money, but they aren’t without problems. In 2011, Which? surveyed 200 homeowners who’d bought a new build and found that more than half had experienced problems.

Many of those surveyed suggested that the builder had rushed the end stages because they wanted to complete the sale more quickly.

Of course, some issues with new builds are small and easily resolved. However, there are people who have had almost unbelievable problems with their new homes and online discussion groups are filled with horror stories.

For example, one new home buyer bought their property having viewed a show home but had a shock when they finally walked through their own front door. “When I finally got to go into the house, all of the interior walls were in the wrong place. Hard to believe, but true. They tried to deny it but had to concede in the end as they were nearly a metre out.”

So what can be done when a new built property fails to come up to the standard expected?

We asked Norman Beckman, a property partner at law firm, DWFM Beckman what rights a buyer has to demand action from the builder. His mantra is simple: “It all depends on the contract.” And that, he urges, makes it essential that buyers have watertight contracts that will protect them if delays or defects cause friction.

“It depends on the contract as to how long you have to demand defects are repaired: some give you six months, others 12 months. Of course, you may still be able to claim for defects under the NHBC or similar warranty schemes,” he explains.

Many buyers may feel unable to pull out of a sale after they’ve exchanged, but Beckman says that a good solicitor (one who doesn’t treat contracts like “identical sacks of potatoes”) will have included protections to cater for things going wrong before completion.

“If the property is damaged, say by some insured risk, and there is a long-stop date in the contract you don’t have to complete if the damage has not been rectified by that long-stop date”

But after completion, can you hand a flawed property back? Beckman believes this would be a very rare event, commenting: “If the builder is in breach of the contract then you would be entitled to compensation. If it is a fundamental breach and the property is uninhabitable then you should be able to hand it back but I have never heard of that happening. But, again, it depends on the terms of the contract.”


Read the article on Yahoo Finance here.