The public sector is streets ahead when it comes to using the Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) to link their systems in order to drive cross-boundary efficiencies. Local authorities and emergency services have been trailblazing this for some time, enabling full 360 degree data view of a location, from electoral data to Council Tax info; risk factors to access restrictions; or rent arrears to Energy Performance Certificates.
With the post-Covid drive for accelerating the digitisation of services, the private sector is catching up. One industry that’s really getting behind the enormous value of the UPRNs is the residential property industry, identifying benefits for both sales and lettings.
In an open letter to the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, over 200 signatories supported the adoption of the UPRNs across the residential property sector. The benefits of this wide adoption of a single reference number for residential properties are far-reaching, providing:
- improvements in building, consumer and market safety
- more targeted and cost-effective enforcement of legislation
- increased protection for tenants and a reduction of rogue landlords
- increased certainty and a faster home buying and selling process
- reduced waste, while saving time and empowering the consumer
- increased income for the Treasury
Speeding up the conveyancing process
One of the key practices that will benefit most from the adoption of the UPRN is the buying and selling of properties. The current process is long, arduous and inefficient. The conveyancing searches alone involve collating information from a wealth of different departments, such as the Local Authority Search, Regulated Drainage and Water Search, Chancel Indemnity Policy, Envirosearch and Land Registry Title – and if you’ve ever bought or sold a property, you know this can take a substantial amount of time. This inefficient process isn’t just time consuming, it increases the risk of losing a purchase or sale because of the time delays. Using the UPRNs widely will make it so much easier to link and share the information digitally, and therefore speed up the transaction process.
This couldn’t be more critical than for the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. The conveyancing process for this has ballooned due to the additional contract you’re required to have with the Government relating to the equity loan they’re providing.
Pre-purchase information packs
Once UPRNs are widely utilised, the ease of digitally collating information relating to a property will mean that buyers can actually review this before they buy, not just when they’re in the purchasing process. This will give buyers more control, certainty and confidence – and again, will greatly speed up the process.
Benefits for tenants
With rising house prices, there’s an increasing number of people renting. And this is set to continue. In June 2021, the BBC reported that for the first time in many years, it’s cheaper to rent than buy. So how will the use of UPRNs benefit renters? With the ease of linking data, councils will be better able to conduct their enforcement activities. This could include activities that protect residents in the private rental sector or the ability to retrieve building safety information quickly, such as presence of sprinkler systems or unsafe cladding. Rogue landlords will become more visible so councils will be better able to safeguard their residents.
We are about to undergo the biggest planning reform since the 1940s, and utilising the UPRNs will be a part of that. They will inject simplicity and agility into the planning system, as planning authorities will find data sharing so much quicker and easier. With these in place, we’ll see faster approval of planning applications, therefore speeding up the delivery of new builds.
At the GeoPlace Conference, May 21, Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister for Housing, said,
‘Digitisation is at the heart of the planning reform and the Government is a strong champion of the UPRNs.’
Dinesh Thanigasalam, Commercial Director of Aligned Assets, comments,
‘It’s great to see different industries starting to follow the public sector lead when it comes to utilising the UPRNs not just for the accuracy of address data, but for linking datasets to enable efficiency and collaboration.’
We can help get you started by linking the UPRNs to your address data. Drop us a line for a quick chat.