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Unique Property Reference Number concept backed by government

The government has thrown its weight behind the concept of Unique Property Reference Numbers as a way of speeding up transactions.

UPRNs give each address in the country a unique number and can have ‘attached’ to that number the activities and characteristics agents need to know about - for example, planning permission for when the property was first built and subsequent extensions, building regulations, council tax payments, utility providers, EPCs, health and safety checks on rental properties, and more.

Now housing minister Chris Pincher has told a conference: “We know that the current buying and selling process is besieged by long and arduous and byzantine processes and inefficiencies. 


“When a buyer is found, old and dusty deeds, half-forgotten documents lying in solicitors’ safes or basements of town halls – they have got to be located, they’ve got to be shared, they’ve got to be pored over by both parties in great detail.”

With UPRNs, he says, “the processes can be streamlined. Information like the number of previous owners, boundaries, that can all be shared digitally at the touch of a key helping to speed the whole house buying process along.”

Last summer the government opened the UPRN system - managed by a firm called GeoPlace, which has Ordnance Survey as its parent company - with the aim of ultimately allowing digital searches for properties producing more comprehensive information than in the past.

And early this year a string of estate agencies, PropTech firms and professional property bodies wrote to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick highlighting the potential benefits of the Unique Property Reference Number concept.

Signatories to the letter included NAEA and ARLA Propertymark, Savills, Foxtons, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, The Lettings Industry Council, the National Residential Landlords Association, The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme. 

At that time the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agents Team issued a statement of support saying: “The widespread use of a Unique Property Reference Number has the potential to deliver many benefits across the residential property market. Importantly, a UPRN can offer tenants a greater level of protection against rogue landlords and help to reduce consumer fraud when buying or renting a home.”

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Whilst it might not seem important to many agents, the adoption of UPRNs is a critical and huge step to transforming the handling of property data and underpins the transformation of the sales process and also how compliance is facilitated. Great to see the government start to wake up to this after years of trying to get this message across.

  • icon

    Such a shame that you cannot look up a UPRN from an address, as a business, without paying a licence fee. This will only slow adoption.


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