It was just last year that The Government announced the release of the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) under an Open Government Licence. Additionally, it mandated that, as of last July, both would be the public sector standard for the referencing and sharing of property and street information.1 The move came some five years after a similar proposal was rejected for licensing reasons
Building on this breakthrough, 51 of the most prominent bodies in the UK’s PropTech and Residential Property Sector (RPS) have now sent an open letter to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), urging government support for adoption of the UPRN across both the public and private sectors.2
True, the UPRN – which links a unique identifier to all things property, whether surveys or related paperwork, and which identifies objects in the landscape that would otherwise not have an address – has benefits for all. Faster conveyancing, more targeted legislation, greater protection for tenants, reduced levels of fraud, and increased productivity are just some of the plus points spelt out in the letter.
As Andrew Bulmer, CEO of the Institute of Residential Property Management, 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”.
Those proposed conditions include:
- All public sector data sets relating to properties and buildings to include the UPRN and a clear roadmap compiled to reach this point
- All future government tenders and policy relating to residential properties and associated data to mandate the use of the UPRN
- Clear agreement about the ethical use of data in the housing market
- The UPRN to be in a clear and useable format that allows it to be widely identified, and freely used and shared
- The tools and explanatory material needed by the whole sector for adoption - not just the solution providers
Doubtless the MHCLG will be mulling over the legislative and financial implications of these proposals, so watch this space for an update