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Property industry urges the use of the UPRN across the sector

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Propertymark, along with other leading residential property bodies across the UK, have published an open letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Thalia Baldwin, Director of the Geospatial Commission highlighting the potential benefits from implementing a widely adopted Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN).

The UPRN is a unique identifier for every addressable location in the UK. They act like a National Insurance Number, or licence plate, for properties, and are allocated by local authorities and by Ordnance Survey (OS) from a range provided by GeoPlace.

The signatories of the letter, which includes leading bodies from across the residential property sector, believe that the wide market adoption of the UPRN will deliver substantial benefits to UK society, the residential property sector and to Government.

The letter details these benefits, including:

  • Improved building, consumer and market safety
  • More targeted and cost-effective enforcement of legislation
  • Increased protection for tenants and a reduction of rogue landlords
  • The ability to speed up conveyancing and transparency in home buying and selling
  • The opportunity to reduce waste, save time and empower the consumer

However, the letter also calls for steps by Government and for certain conditions to be met to really enable these benefits:

  • All public sector data sets relating to properties and buildings should include the UPRN and a clear roadmap is needed to get to this point
  • All future Government tenders and policy relating to residential properties and associated data should mandate the use of the UPRN
  • There must be clear agreement about the ethical use of data in the housing market
  • The UPRN must be in a clear and useable format that allows the UPRN to be widely identified, and freely used and shared
  • This must include the tools, the support materials and the explanation needed by the whole sector for adoption, not just the solution providers

The future is digital

Propertymark have long called for further digitisation of the property sector to improve the home moving process. In December 2017, we responded to a Government call for evidence on improving the buying and selling process in England where we argued that harnessing digital technology would cut down the number of failed property transactions, speed up the process and increase transparency for those moving home.

In our political manifesto in November 2019, we called for another step toward a digitised future by pushing for an annual Property ‘MOT’ for rented accommodation, and a digital logbook for every property bought and sold to allow all parties involved to easily access information about their property and ensure that they are more engaged and better informed.

The widespread adoption of easily accessible digital information, including the UPRN, will also better prepare the sector for RoPA, with Lord Best, chair of the RoPA Working Group, stating that “the UPRN is an excellent concept and could be a game-changer.”

Read the full letter