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Conveyancing – is industry-wide UPRN adoption on the cards?

Industry-wide adoption of Unique Property Reference Numbers could be one step closer after an announcement by a major trade body.

The Conveyancing Information Executive (CIE) yesterday published a detailed whitepaper, entitled ‘Property Passports: the role of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs)’, to address the practical challenges of transitioning the property industry to universally using UPRNs, ‘to help improve the property transaction process’.  

Chris Loaring, a spokesperson for the CIE, commented: “It is commonly agreed across the industry that Unique Property Reference Numbers will offer the best solution towards creating a unique, non-transferable and universal reference for every property. Our whitepaper offers the first analysis of what practical steps are needed to make the implementation possible to get all stakeholders aligned.


“At the CIE, we collectively have more industry experts in one place who are immersed in property, geospatial and UPRN data. We are therefore very pleased to present to the market a whitepaper that breaks down the role UPRNs will play in providing one true record for each address, which will ultimately help towards reducing transactional delays and improve the overall experience.” 

At a later date, the CIE will be hosting an industry roundtable event to discuss the details of the whitepaper. The date and joining details of the event will be announced soon.

You can download a copy of the ‘Property Passports: the role of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs)’ whitepaper by clicking here.

The overall purpose of the CIE is to raise data quality and content standards in property searches used within the UK conveyancing process, with a membership that includes Argyll Environmental, Geodesys, Groundsure, Landmark Information, Mining Searches UK, PinPoint Information, SearchFlow, Ambiental, Glenigan, JBA Risk Management and Barbour ABI.

Momentum behind wider use of UPRNs – which are similar to car license plates – has been growing in the last couple of years.

In July last year, trade body Propertymark urged agents to start being trained in the use of software operating the UPRN system, while in January this year Countrywide and Foxtons were among the names backing a new scheme to speed up the conveyancing process.

The agencies, along with Savills and a string of agency trade bodies, threw their weight behind an idea to identify every single UK residential property with a unique number, signing a letter sent to then-Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick outlining the potential advantages of the Unique Property Reference Number concept.

Most recently, in late June 2021, the Unique Property Reference Number concept was backed by the government as well.

Housing minister Chris Pincher said at the time: “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 argued that “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.”

Poll: Are UPRNs the future for conveyancing?


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    UPRN's are a great idea, however, they need to be free. At the moment, to look up a UPRN by address, or to get an address from a UPRN you need an expensive licence. Which is a shame, as it will slow adoption.

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    Hopefully this can help. however a chain will only move as fast as the slowest part it. That slowest part is more often a leasehold property. More concentration need to be focused on how to get leasehold transactions to happen faster. Perhaps regulations for turn around of replies from Management companies... and industrywide indemnity policies that cover most eventualities. (wishful thinking I'm sure)


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