Property professionals facing a backlog of mandatory electrical checks for new tenancies can get back on track by partnering with a national provider of Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs).
This is according to PropCert, which says that as agents continue to deal with unprecedented rental demand, they will soon have to start preparing for the extension of The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 in April 2021.
With this in mind, agents could start to encounter a backlog of checks if they only have access to a small pool of tradespeople whose services will be in extremely high demand.
Rental market surge continues
As a result of the easing of lockdown restrictions, levels of activity in the rental market were exceptionally high over the summer months.
In July, for example, the average letting agency branch registered 97 new tenants - the highest number on record, according to ARLA Propertymark.
During the same month, the number of available rental properties reached 208 per agency branch, while the average tenancy length hit an all-time high of 21 months.
"While activity levels in the rental market may have slowed slightly during August and September, demand is likely to remain consistent over the coming months as we approach the New Year," says Tom Harrington, Managing Director of PropCert.
"At the same time, research shows that tenants are staying in rental properties for longer. This means the number of electrical checks property professionals are required to carry out could double by next spring as the private rental sector continues to grow in size."
"Therefore, they need to have the systems and procedures in place to cope with a high number of required electrical checks," he says.
April deadline fast approaching
The electrical safety regulations will be extended to cover all tenancies from April 1 2021. Harrington says that agents have a small window to make sure checks are carried out for existing tenancies if they want to remain compliant.
"It may seem like a long way off, but agents need to start preparing now to ensure the relevant checks for all existing tenancies are carried out in line with next year's extension."
"Between now and next April, the requirement for electrical checks will grow substantially and there could be significant pressure on local tradespeople if they struggle to cope with increasing demand," Harrington adds.
"Agents need to make sure they are working with suppliers which can cope with high demand for electrical checks well ahead of the deadline extension so they are not put under necessary pressure."
"The regulations set out that checks must be carried out by contractors who are members of a competency scheme or alternatively those who sign a checklist confirming they have the competency to carry out the checks."
"As we move towards next April's deadline, agents who encounter a backlog of checks should not resort to working with unregistered tradespeople as this could put tenants' safety and landlords' properties at risk," says Harrington.
National providers can help reduce pressure
Harrington explains that working with suppliers like PropCert - which has a national database of over 250 electricians - can help to reduce the pressure of high demand for electrical checks.
"We can help agents to manage electrical checks more easily, providing them with a large pool of certified contractors so they can work with alternative electricians if their usual provider is unavailable."
He adds that using an online system to manage electrical checks can help agents to stay on top of the administrative workload.
"Agents can benefit from placing orders online, tracking with real time updates and storing certificates securely. An efficient and time-saving system like this can help them to cope with the rise in number of checks required as we approach the extension of the regulations next April," Harrington concludes.