For the property market in general, residential properties in particular, and for anyone working with data about land or buildings, the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) is a gamechanger.
- Boosts productivity in the property sector overall
- Improves consumer and market safety and mitigates fraud
- Accelerates the home buying and selling process
- Allows more targeted, cost-effective legislation enforcement
- Increases protection for tenants and helps identify rogue landlords
Free online briefing: UPRNs - The Golden Key in the Property Sector
On 16th September 2021, GeoPlace hosted a webinar on the use of UPRNs within the property sector. Speakers included:
- Nick Chapallaz, Managing Director, GeoPlace
- Richard Duffield, Head of Customer Insights, GeoPlace
- Theresa Wallace, Chair, The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC)
- Andrew Bulmer, CEO, Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM)
- Lawrence Hopper, Deputy Director, Digital Policy, Ministry of Housing, Local Government and Communities (MHCLG)
- Andrew Knight, Data & Tech, Thought Leadership & Analysis, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
What is the UPRN?
The UPRN is a unique reference for each and every addressable location in the UK. It sits at the heart of our addressing system. Because it’s unique, the UPRN can connect thousands of databases, securely. This means more accuracy and instant data sharing.
Housing Minister says “UPRNs should be ‘baked in’ to streamline house buying and selling”
Speaking at the GeoPlace annual conference, the Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, the Minister for Housing, said that the widespread adoption of UPRNs is fundamental to supporting the post-pandemic landscape and building back better, particularly within the housing sector.
- The Minister spoke in the opening session of the conference alongside:
- Thalia Baldwin, Director, Geospatial Commission
- Andrew Bulmer, CEO, Institute of Residential Property Management
- Sammy Pahal, Managing Director, UK PropTech Association
UPRNs included in the Buying and Selling Property Information form (BASPI)
On 31st March 2022, a new version of the BASPI – the Buying and Selling Property Information form - was launched. This initiative is part of a wider process to digitise the home buying process so that information can be shared electronically between all parties involved in the conveyancing process.
For the first time, the form includes the requirement to include a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) alongside the address of the property.
Ordnance Survey and UK PropTech Association announce partnership to drive digital transformation in the property industry
The new partnership provides an opportunity to demonstrate to UKPA members how OS data, products and APIs can make it simpler and quicker for PropTech and property business to use geospatial data to support their own products and services and pass benefits to their customers. It is also a chance to show how using OS data creates the right circumstances for PropTech innovation to thrive.
OS’s Head of Partners, Stefan Wells said: “We believe securing this partnership with such an influential body as the UKPA is a significant step towards accelerating digital transformation in the property world.
The Geospatial Commission: location data plays a critical role in addressing the national challenge of providing housing that meets different needs
Housing and local planning is an opportunity area identified in the UK Geospatial Strategy which was launched in 2020 and this review builds on the release of UPRNs under the Open Government Licence to standardise referencing and sharing of address information about properties and streets across the public sector.
The Geospatial Commission has published a number of resources to support the property sector:
Zoopla switch to AddressBase and UPRNs
Currently, Zoopla uses Royal Mail for its property address data. Over the next few months, they will be migrating this data to Ordnance Survey, which provides a more complete and reliable address dataset for residential properties.
Zoopla recognise that AddressBase is the industry standard, with UPRNs allocated to every property. Read the Zoopla blog post: Why does my address look different? which sets out:
Speeding up commercial-to-residential conversions to help solve the housing crisis
New rules make it easier to convert office and retail space to residential – but some obstacles remain.
Including UPRNs in Energy Performance Certificates
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and Display Energy Certificates (DEC) records for buildings in England and Wales are published quarterly via the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. From November 2021, UPRNs have been allocated to the data. This should allow users to easily cross-reference between different data sets and aid data linking.
How do I get UPRNs?
UPRNs are found within the AddressBase®and OpenData products from Ordnance Survey. OS OpenData is completely free at the point of use on the terms of the Open Government Licence (OGL). This can be used for any purposes in accordance with the OGL and only requires relevant copyright/database right acknowledgments. OpenData – Free GIS Data Download – Geospatial Data Sources for Mapping (ordnancesurvey.co.uk)
There is also the Open ID Policy which is aimed at enabling the widest possible use and sharing of TOIDs, UPRNs and USRNs, feeding valuable data into the geospatial ecosystem. Open Identifiers policy (ordnancesurvey.co.uk)
Any person or organisation can also gain free access to OS Premium Data (ordnancesurvey.co.uk), a list of which can be found on our website, via the Data Exploration Licence (DEL). It will permit you to evaluate OS data to research and develop potential commercial applications for your business. The DEL lets you use OS data for 12 months and can be renewed. It also allows you to use AddressBase, AddressBase Plus, AddressBase Premium and AddressBase Islands products which include information from Royal Mail, for 3 months. Data Exploration Licence sign up (ordnancesurvey.co.uk)
See information on usage policies and a licensing summary paper that Ordnance Survey prepared for the UK PropTech Association. There is also a summary of OS licensing options here, by the UK PropTech Association.
Making it easier to use UPRNs
The Government announced that UPRNs and USRNs (Unique Street Reference Numbers) are to be made available under Open Government Licence.
UPRNs and USRNs are so important, the Open Standards Board mandated that from 1st July 2020, they must be used as the public sector standard for referencing and sharing property and street information.
“As the public sector adopts these identifiers, we should see huge changes in the way location data is managed, linked, shared and used – more efficient, less expensive, and altogether more effective."
On 28th July 2020, the Central Digital & Data Office (part of the Cabinet Office) issued new guidance to comply with the UPRN standard. They stated that if you work in the public sector and you need to use address data, such as property and street information, then you should follow this guidance.
You must use the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) standard when identifying places in the UK. This allows users to easily cross-reference between different data sets and reduces errors in data exchange and communication. Every addressable location in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales and excluding Northern Ireland) has a UPRN, and using this standard can save money, time, resources and lives.
Access free address data using AddressBase
- Steve Brandwood – Executive Director of Engagement at GeoPlace.
On 28th July 2021
Driving adoption of the UPRN across the property sector
The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC), the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) and The Real Estate Data Foundation (RED Foundation) are working hard to raise awareness of UPRNs across the sector for the benefit of the industry, Government and society.
On 12th January 2021 Leading residential property bodies published an open letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and copied to Thalia Baldwin, Director of the Geospatial Commission highlighting the potential benefits from a widely adopted Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and steps that Government needs to take to make this happen. 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.
Read more on the IRPM's website at https://www.irpm.org.uk/uprn.
On 15th September 2021, the IRPM published a White Paper: The UPRN – what’s in a number? The white paper identifies a number of challenges faced by the property industry in gaining acceptance of the UPRN. These include a lack of awareness/understanding of the potential of the UPRN, a lack of capability and accessibility to open data within stakeholder organisations and the cost of the internal changes that would be required to fully utilise this data.
Additionally, TLIC’s work should also help landlords improve properties at a lower cost, while the proposed ‘Property MOT’ would replace many licensing schemes and will also benefit tenants.
The RED Foundation’s research identifies the importance of standards and of moving to a common denominator – a golden thread that can tie different datasets together. In real estate, the UPRN can solve that problem and, in the process, also overcome the systems’ challenges PropTech has been facing for many years.
The Conveyancing Information Executive also published a White Paper on 15th September 2021: Property Passports, The role of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) in improving the property transaction process which concludes “To power this future state of a more enjoyable and fluid property transaction market, we need a more efficient, progressive and technology driven property transaction process. UPRNs are unquestionably the only unifying force currently capable of delivering this reality”.
Why we should be encouraging UPRN adoption
Andrew Knight, Data & Tech, Thought Leadership & Analysis, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says that the housing sector could benefit enormously from the consistent, standardised data format that a unique property reference number enables – but only if essential data can be effectively collated. Read his report in the RICS Property Journal here.
Property Passports are a way to 'track and trace' relationships in the rental sector, so that tenants and local councils can check in on the health and safety requirements of rental properties. UPRNs are fundamental to making Property Passports work.
Read more in the links below:
GeoPlace has worked with TLIC to explain how using the UPRN can improve safety and reduce costs
How is the UPRN used by local authorities?
Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to name and number streets. They create our official addresses. GeoPlace provides them with a range of UPRNs, which get allocated – one to each new address – as soon as ‘street naming and numbering' gets started or ‘construction' starts, whichever comes first.
To help manage their property portfolios, local authorities themselves use UPRNs in all kinds of ways:
- Corporate estates – linking council-owned property for accurate referencing
- Environmental Health – connecting data to ensure properties don’t ‘fall through the net’ in licensing and standards
- Building control – triggering inspections for new builds, for example
- Planning enforcement
- HMO licensing – data linking with Ctax, ER, benefits, education systems
- Rogue landlord detection – identifying unlawful, unregistered lets
- Sub-letting of council housing – using data to spot fraud
- Housing – housing stock mapping and planned maintenance analysis
- Council Tax – identification of single person discount fraud