How are Complaints Handled?
NHBRC complaints procedure
The complaints procedure aims to:
- Assist the housing consumer by ensuring that home builders meet their obligations under the Act; and
- Assess applications made by housing consumer seeking assistance from the NHBRC for the rectification
of major structural defects; and
- Detect contraventions of the Act requiring disciplinary action or prosecution.
Types of Complaints
The NHBRC deals with three types of complaint:
1. Three-months non-compliance period
If a complaint relates to three months non-compliance, and a housing consumer has notified the home builder, the NHBRC will seek to resolve the complaint telephonically and through correspondence with the home builder. The NHBRC will pursue the home builder, so as to ensure that they comply with their obligations to the housing consumer in terms of Section 13 (2) (iii) of the Act, to rectify such defects within three months of the date of occupation. Rectification of minor defects will be undertaken by the Home Builder, not the NHBRC.
2. One-year roof leak period
The Home Builder provides the housing consumer with a one-year warranty against roof leaks upon occupation of the home. If a housing consumer experiences a roof leak in a home within one year from the date of occupation, and the home builder has failed to respond to the complaint, the NHBRC will notify the home builder and seek an immediate response, failing which the NHBRC may issue a request for conciliation. It is the obligation of the home builder, in terms of Section 13 (2) (iii) of the Act, to rectify such defects notified to him by the housing consumer within one year.
3. Five-year major structural defects period
In terms of Section 13 (2)(b)(i) of the Act, where a complaint from a housing consumer relates, in the opinion of Council, to a possible major structural defect, the NHBRC may seek the home builder's response, and the NHBRC may immediately issue the housing consumer with a request for conciliation and may request the prescribed refundable conciliation deposit from the consumer. The conciliation deposit will be refunded once the complaint has been dealt with, unless the complaint is found to be frivolous.
Step by step complaints procedure
A housing consumer and a home builder must try to resolve their
differences in a reasonable manner before referring a complaint to the NHBRC. Before submitting a complaint to the NHBRC, the housing consumer should:
- Notify the home builder in writing of all the complaints requiring attention within the applicable time
periods set out in Section 13 (2) (b) of the Act;
- Keep a copy of the letter of complaint and proof of the date that it was sent to the home builder;
- Allow the home builder reasonable access to the property to effect rectification; and
- Ensure that all financial obligations to the home builder are met.
How do you refer a complaint to the NHBRC?
A housing consumer may refer a complaint to the NHBRC if any of the following conditions apply:
- The home builder does not respond within the periods specified in the table below
- The home builder fails to honour their obligations.
- There is an unresolved dispute between the home builder and the housing consumer regarding the
extent of the home builder’s liability.
Table: Response from the Home Builder
|Nature of complaint
||Period for response to the NHBRC or action
||21 working days
|One-year roof leak
||7 working days
|Five-year major structural defect period
||7 working days
|Deposit theft or irregularity
||Refer complaint to Commercial Crime Unit
||Refer to your legal representative/attorney
How to lodge a complaint?
- Phone the NHBRC’s toll free number: 0800 200 824.
- Complete the complaint form.
- Proof of the occupation date of the home, if applicable (e.g. municipalities need the occupation certificate).
- Proof of notification to the home builder within the necessary time periods.
- A complete list of the items of dispute notified to the home builder.
The NHBRC may deal with a complaint in one of the following ways:
- Accept the complaint
- Advise that the complaint falls outside the scope of the Act, and notify the housing consumer of its decision and its reasons.
- Request the parties to resolve the matter through legal proceedings as the matter falls outside the scope of the Act
Home Builders' Responsibilities
The Home Builder shall:
- Confirm whether he or she denies or accepts the complaint,
- Confirm when any rectification work or any other appropriate action will start and end,
- Arrange necessary access to effect rectification
Response time of the Home Builder
The Home Builder shall respond within specific periods as specified on the table above, from the time they receive the complaint.