Letting agents are being warned that many risk a backlog of mandatory electrical checks unless they take rapid action to work with a large-scale operator.
PropTech firm PropCert says that as agents continue to deal with unprecedented demand, they must also prepare for the extension of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations in April next year - just six months away.
PropCert says in July, for example, the average agency branch registered 97 new tenants - the highest 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 New Year" explains PropCert managing director Tom Harrington.
"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" he suggests.
The electrical safety regulations will be extended to cover all tenancies from April 1 2021 and Harrington says agents have a small window to make sure checks are carried out for existing tenancies if they want to remain compliant.
"It may seem 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.
"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."
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.
He adds that using an online system to manage electrical checks can also 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.