With figures from the National Energy Action (NEA) suggesting that an average of 9,700 deaths per year are caused by living in an under-heated home, regular gas safety checks are a necessity. The implementation of technology can reduce gas related risks and ensure that all homes are in-line with current government guidelines. There are a number of ways in which technology can improve levels of LGSR compliance. The simple act of gathering property data offers housing providers and maintenance teams the ability to monitor their properties remotely and at their own convenience, allowing providers to scan for potential issues and schedule appointments accordingly.
The central benefit of digital communication is appointment scheduling. Through digital scheduling, housing providers can grant their residents more flexibility when it comes to booking maintenance visits. Digital channels allow providers to offer up a range of dates and times, increasing the accessibility of a property while also ensuring minimal disruption to the tenant’s day-to-day routines. Certain technologies, such as the kind offered here at Switchee, also give providers the ability to see when messages have been received and read, reducing any uncertainties about whether or not the tenant is aware of upcoming maintenance checks. This has the added benefit of minimising the risk of litigation too, by giving providers evidence of each instance that they have tried to contact residents regarding access to a property.
However, digital channels can also help bring down costs. The NEA suggests that a letter can cost between £2 and £25 and a phone call might cost a few pounds, digital communication channels cost almost nothing. The cost to transmit information digitally is significantly less than the cost to transmit it physically. But this isn’t the only way in which technology can lower costs.
When creating a contract between maintenance teams and housing providers, one thing that is often built in to the overall price is a provision for lack-of-access callouts. This is so that maintenance teams don’t lose out if they are unable to access a property. However, over time, if access rates are shown to improve dramatically (something that is already being noted by many providers) then the need for these clauses will lessen and may eventually disappear altogether. This is due to the more reliable nature of digital communication – from read receipts to quicker resident response rates, digital avenues have served to strengthen lines of communication throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and, if given the chance, will continue to do so for years to come.
Technology has also been shown to ease the strain on maintenance teams during peak seasons. For example, some systems allow maintenance teams to test boilers remotely and at their convenience. This allows them to identify any potential concerns and install a solution with minimal disruption, lowering overall costs and alleviating the pressure from maintenance teams. In testing boilers during summer, when the weather is altogether warmer, issues can be dealt with before the cold returns, meaning that repairs can be carried out in-hours with little risk to the tenants’ health and wellbeing. This leads to an drop in emergency call outs when the cold weather arrives after a stretch of summer sun, and allows for repairs without upsetting the tenants’ day-to-day routine.
Throughout the current pandemic, one thing has been made clear: technology, when properly implemented, facilitates communication. In relying on digital avenues, housing providers can monitor their stock remotely and ensure that any potential issues are dealt with proactively, thereby aiding in their pursuit of compliance. From automated messaging systems to remote boiler tests, digital avenues offer up a wide range of benefits to housing providers and residents alike. These resources can help reduce the risk of wasted house calls, boost resident engagement levels, and increase overall levels of property compliance.