Momentum to see unique property reference numbers ‘baked’ into the housing market is expected to grow as representatives from residential property bodies highlighted the need to increase public and sector awareness.
Earlier this year conveyancers wrote an open letter urging the government to speed up the home buying and selling process by encouraging the widespread adoption of UPRNs. A few months later the government said widespread adoption of UPRNs across the private and social sector was fundamental to Boris Johnson’s pledge in March to ‘build back better’.
Every unit of land and property is allocated a UPRN and geographic coordinates to ensure there is one true record for each address. Local authorities are required to maintain address registers. The address registers, including UPRNs, are submitted to GeoPlace, a central address database.
However, Andrew Knight, international data standards director at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, told a GeoPlace webinar today that despite the known benefits of UPRNs, awareness is generally low.
He said: ‘It’s an incredibly fragmented sector, reflected in the fragmentation of data itself, whether digital or analogue.’
Knight pointed out that requests for road tax renewals, for instance, contain the vehicle registration number. But a council tax bill does not contain the UPRN. ‘There is no kind of socialisation,’ he said.
Theresa Wallace, co-founder of The Lettings Industry Council, said UPRNs can help to resolve utility-related issues. The Energy Performance Certificate is being around UPRNs. Wallace is currently buying a house and told the webinar the process has taken several months. 'If all that information was connected to the UPRN, I'm sure my property transaction would have gone through in half the time it has taken us.'
Nick Chapallaz, managing director of GeoPlace, suggested people within the property sector look at the data across their organisation and include UPRNs. Wallace suggested conversations with system providers on the potential use of UPRNs in future planning.