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The UK’s Residential Property Sector advocates greater adoption of the UPRN

Posted: 13 January 2021

Greater adoption of the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) will deliver substantial benefits to UK society.

On 12th January, a cohort of the most prominent bodies in the UK’s Residential Property Sector (RPS) sent an open letter to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) – highlighting ways in which Government can support the appetite for greater adoption of the UPRN, right across the sector.

Nick Chapallaz, CEO, GeoPlace: “This is an extraordinary open letter. It marks an important shift in awareness among businesses and organisations that are determined to deliver better outcomes by making better use of location data. The signatories represent a formative cohort, and their appetite for greater adoption of the UPRN will be excellent news for the property sector, homeowners and tenants alike.”

The UPRN works much in the same way as the number plate on a car. By linking a unique number to all things property-related, such as surveys, sales and paperwork, every process can be tracked more effectively and enacted more efficiently. However, to make sure the UPRN’s potential is fully optimised, the RPS is asking Government to take a number of steps and work towards a number of signification policy changes. As a result, the sector would see:

  • Faster conveyancing as processes become more efficient
  • More targeted, cost-effective legislation enforcement
  • Greater protection for tenants and fewer rogue landlords
  • An increase in productivity in the property sector overall
  • Improved consumer and market safety and lower levels of fraud

The open letter details the changes required across the sector, which can be enabled through focused support from Government:

  • 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.

Andrew Bulmer, CEO of IRPM commented: “If all the conditions in our open letter were to be met, we could work towards the wholesale adoption of the UPRN, right across the sector. Implemented effectively, this could help position the UK as the world’s leading property market”.

Back in April 2020, Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister for Housing, stated that the mandate for using UPRNs is the “most powerful boost for the UK PropTech sector in a generation”.

Theresa Wallace, Founder of The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC), noted that: “widespread adoption could revolutionise the property market. This is an exciting initiative that has industry support and we now need the Government to add theirs.”

UPRNs are open data, covered by the Open Government License and are available from Ordnance Survey as an API.


About the UPRN

The Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) are the unique identifiers for every addressable location and street in Great Britain.

They are created by local authorities that have a statutory authority to name and number every street and property and Ordnance Survey, which identifies objects in the landscape that would otherwise not have an address. GeoPlace LLP is the organisation that connect the two bodies, issues the ranges of UPRNs to the local authorities, and provides unparalleled expertise in managing and optimising the use of UPRNs in key sectors and a diverse range of businesses.

UPRNs are open data, covered by the Open Government License and are available from Ordnance Survey as an API, as well as via download as a dataset.


About GeoPlace

GeoPlace LLP is a public sector limited liability partnership between the Local Government Association (LGA) and Ordnance Survey (OS).

GeoPlace is a world class expert in address and street information management, working internationally as well as in the UK to help our partners and customers maximise the value of their spatial information for better decision making.

GeoPlace maintains a national infrastructure that supports the address and street information needs of the public and private sectors. Its work relies heavily on close working relationships with every local authority in England and Wales. This relationship has been developed over 15 years, to build the National Address Gazetteer infrastructure and National Street Gazetteer. OS develops the range of AddressBase products from the National Address Gazetteer and OS MasterMap Highways Network from the NSG. Both datasets underpin efficient and effective services, bringing direct service delivery benefits to users.

These unique reference numbers link datasets together and share information with other organisations who also use them. They provide a comprehensive, complete and consistent identifier throughout a property's life cycle – from planning permission or street naming through to demolition.

See https://www.geoplace.co.uk

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