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.
As the key to connecting land and property, the UPRN:
- 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
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.
What is an ‘addressable location’?
Addressable locations include buildings, parcels of land, and objects that may not have a ‘normal' address – things like bus shelters. The UPRNs stay with objects or locations throughout their lifecycles, from planning through to demolition.
See our animation about UPRNs - The Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) is the unique identifier for every addressable location in Great Britain.
Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) and Unique Street Reference Numbers (USRNs) are now openly available and royalty-free for use on Open Government Licence (OGL) terms from Ordnance Survey.
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."
- Steve Brandwood – Executive Director of Engagement at GeoPlace.
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.
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.
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