Industry bodies and agencies unite to back UPRNs in open letter

An open letter from more than 50 organisations operating within the residential property sector has been published calling on the government to roll-out Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs)

Robert Jenrick

Addressed to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, the letter says UPRNs will offer a number of benefits including the elimination of unscrupulous landlords, greater protection for tenants, better enforcement of housing standards and faster and simpler property sales.

Organised by The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC) and the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRMP), the letter is also backed by many estate agents and industry organisations including the Property Redress Scheme, NRLA, RICS, Knight Frank, Savills, Hunters, Countrywide and Foxtons.

Andrew Bulmer, CEO of the IRPM, commented: “The UPRN is like attaching a number plate to a car, instead we [will] attach a unique number to all things related to properties so that each property can be uniquely identified with unparalleled accuracy.”

He added: “If all the conditions outlined in the letter were to be met, we could proactively work towards the wholesale adoption of the UPRN.”

tllic uprns
Theresa Wallace

Theresa Wallace, founder of TLIC, believes that that “widespread adoption of UPRN’s could revolutionise the property market”.

“This is a really exciting initiative which has industry support and we now need the government to add theirs,” she added.

As one of the signatories of the letter alongside other leading bodies from across the residential property sector, Knight Frank  is among those that believe that the wide market adoption of the UPRN will deliver substantial benefits to UK society, the residential property sector and to government.

Beverley Kennard, associate and operations manager at Knight Frank, commented: “A Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) is allocated to a property by local authorities and means that a full history of the property is available, regardless of if the address changes. The use of UPRNs will bring real benefits to the residential property sector and landlords and tenants.”

The letter, which you can read by clicking here, details the benefits of widespread market adoption of the UPRN to society, the economy and property sector. These include:

• Improved building, consumer and market safety
• More targeted and cost-effective enforcement of legislation
• Increased protection for tenants and a reduction of rogue landlords
• The ability to speed up conveyancing and transparency in home buying and selling
• The opportunity to reduce waste, save time and empower the consumer

But the letter also calls for steps by government and for certain conditions to be met to really enable these benefits:

• All public sector data sets relating to properties and buildings should include the UPRN and a clear roadmap is needed to get to this point
• All future Government tenders and policy relating to residential properties and associated data should mandate the use of the UPRN
• There must be clear agreement about the ethical use of data in the housing market
• The UPRN must be in a clear and useable format that allows the UPRN to be widely identified and freely used and shared
• This must include the tools, the support materials and the explanation needed by the whole sector for adoption, not just the solution providers

Full list of signatories in alphabetical order:
• Advice for Renters
• Alpha Property Insight
• Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA)
• Base Property Specialists
• Bold Legal Group
• British Property Federation
• Building Passport
• Chestertons
• ClientMoneyProtect
• Conveyancing Association
• Countrywide
• Fexco Property Services
• FirstPort
• Fixflo
• Foxtons
• HACT
• Hamilton Fraser insurance products
• Hamptons
• HML Group
• Hunters
• Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM)
• JLL
• Knight Frank
• Landlord Action
• Landmark
• Landscape Institute
• Marks out of Tenancy
• My Property Group
• MyDeposits
• NAPIT
• No Letting Go
• Northern Housing Consortium
• National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA)
• OSCRE International
• Premier Estates
• Property Checklists
• Propertymark
• Property Redress Scheme (PRS)
• Real Estate Data Foundation (RED Foundation)
• Rendall and Ritner
• Residential Logbook Association (RLBA)
• Residently
• Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
• Savills (UK) Ltd
• The Depositary
• The Property Ombudsman (TPO)
• The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
• The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC)
• Trustmark
• UK PropTech Association (UK PA)
• The UK Apartment Association (UKAA)

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20 Comments

  1. smile please

    Laughable some of the companies backing this.

    A number of them heavily promote bucket shop conveyancing which we all know leads to horrendous delays and stress.

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    1. KByfield04

      Great to see your sunny attitude once again radiating over some great initiatives SP. Despite your opinions of some companies featured, I think there is one thing all agents agree on-selling and buying takes too long. The establishing of a unilateral ‘data point/anchor’ to which all property related transactions are allocated to is the foundation of multi point verified data being made readily available- this is what will ultimately be the tiny cog that makes sales transaction going from months to days possible. If you like to add technical debate to the adoption of UPRN rather than aspersions on companies backing it that would be awesome…

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      1. smile please

        Do you not find it ironic with companies such as CW looking to speed up the house buying process when they farm out all their conveyancing to bucket shop conveyancers which if you have ANY experience in selling house know can easily add a month if not two to the process?

        If they were that bothered on speeding up the process look at something that can make a measurable instant difference.

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        1. KByfield04

          That’s about what makes business sense in the current climate/marketplace Vs being able to see what is in the future. If what you say is accurate- I imagine they would happily operate in a faster market with greater conversion/lower fall-throughs which then generates that revenue in that way.

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          1. smile please

            As with a lot of these things, in theory great but reality is a different thing ….. Remember HIPs they were suppose to speed up the process and reduce fall throughs……. Did not work out well.

            Why business do not look at themselves to do what they can is beyond me.

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  2. Robert_May

    UPRN is already being used to successfully and practically link collaborative systems, two firms who have taken the initiative to work out the challenges and pitfall aren’t on that lists but already about  50,000  available properties are UPRN enabled and have been viewed a little over 6 million times in the past 3 months.

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    1. KByfield04

      It is Robert- this is not about saying who did it/adopted it first- but about recognising that mandated adoption of this as a reference point for any property transaction- from a let/sale to a license application to kitchen refurb, boiler replacement or insurance claim. None of the comp[anies above are saying ‘we did this first’ but is saying- lets’ get this done.

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      1. Robert_May

        Let us  know when the mandated system is analysed coded and working we’ll amend what’s been done already to fit in with the new system.

        Just for reference, work on extracting PMI from PIQ based on UPRN is already in hand

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        1. KByfield04

          It won’t get mandated unless people support it. As one of the biggest ‘techies’ I know Robert- I would have thought you would have been a huge advocate of the value of adoption rather than worrying about who did what first where and why.

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          1. Robert_May

            I am an advocate of UPRN. That’s why within 10 minutes of an un- mandated opportunity to collaborate on UPRN we  were able to test  what we had built and were waiting to test.

             

             

            My post wasn’t about woo hoo we were first it was  telling  those working in parallel  that there is already  a practical experience of what the group is lobbying for.

            I  naively wasn’t aware UPRN  needed a mandate  for it’s  widespread adoption and just got on, built it, tested it, resolved the issues that became apparent and then moved on to the obvious opportunity it opens up, the chance to apply better compliance with CPR PMI

             

            This  article reads like UPRN is difficult and  adoption is going to be a challenge met with stiff opposition, from my perspective the advantages are so obvious I cannot understand the delay or necessity for a lobby group.

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  3. The Auctioneer

    Why not use existing Land Registry numbers rather than try to reinvent the wheel, create extra work, costs and Ivory Towers?

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    1. KByfield04

      Title registers don’t work as too many individual residences are held on a single title despite multiple units being present. This isn’t extra work- this is a dataset that has been in existence for a long time but was hidden from public view/access- this is now being changed although there is still some way to go- primarily in making is readily available and free. If made freely available via APIs this usually wouldn’t cause any additional work as it would be auto-populated in most instances. As an auctioneer I can appreciate you are not that fussed about slow traditional sales- in fact that is driving growth in auctions- but for traditional agents the idea of potentially reducing transactions from 20 weeks to a matter of days hinges on the adoption of such a seemingly simple piece of data.

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  4. paulgbar666

    So will this system enable lenders to ascertain if other than the borrower resides at a particular property!?

     

    If it does there will be about a million homeless tenants.

     

    Why!?

     

    Well because there are reckoned to be about 300000 homeowners who are fraudulently letting their properties in breach of their resi mortgage conditions.

    Lenders will presumably be able to check this very quickly with these property numbers.

     

    Will lenders be able to detect in BTL or LTB properties if occupied by tenants receiving HB.?

     

    Again if possible many LL will be breaching BTL mortgage conditions.

     

    Will rental properties be detected that don’t comply with EPC E status?

     

    If so even more homeless tenants and possibly bankrupted LL who are unable to improve to EPC E status.

    They would need to sell.

     

    The joining up of data might seem a good idea.

     

    It has the potential to make millions homeless.

    Obviously for all those industry participants who comply with regulations and terms and conditions they have nothing to fear.

    The vast number of fraudulent tenancies will be discovered causing mass homelessness.

     

    Don’t think Govt has fully thought this through!!

     

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    1. KByfield04

      Your argument for not adopting this is that it will make a completely transparent and compliant market? Id query these stats too- there are approximately 2m landlords- approximately half of which don’t have mortgages- so that’s 1m- I would be surprised if 30% of that number are on a resi mortgage- if it is that scale I would expect an evolution of the market- lenders wont want that exposure or loss of revenue- they would pivot and adopt their offerings instead. That borrowers will have to comply with mortgage terms, property license requirements, MEES, etc surely those are good things not bad?

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  5. aSalesAgent

    “Addressed to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, the letter says UPRNs will offer a number of benefits including the elimination of unscrupulous landlords, greater protection for tenants, better enforcement of housing standards and faster and simpler property sales.”

    …..What?

    Property/land is already identifiable by its address and also its title number.

    How many manhours were spent coming up with this proposal? Surely all these well-positioned property professionals can be more constructive with their time?

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    1. Tegs Dad

      It says “will”, but does not explain how. As you say a property is already very identifiable. Sounds like a money-making scheme to me.

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    2. KByfield04

      Addresses are unreliable- multiple permutations often exist for a property- likewise Title Reference numbers are often inadequate as multiple units within a single unit/building/development cannot be identified- if agents want to holy grail of faster transactions and conveyancing (as we now know it) to become a thing of the past with all property data instantly gathered and cross-checked from multiple data sources- then this is the cornerstone that makes all of that possible. UPRNs are not new- they have been around for well over a decade- but were for gov use only- these are now being opened up (still not open enough- charges apply for use at scale which should be dropped entirely). What is clear is there needs to be a webinar or live chat session to convey why such a seemingly simple thing is so important and requires the support of agents big and small across the UK- and part of that is clarifying why Title Register references are not suitable, etc.

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  6. KByfield04

    They are available Woodentop- no one is saying they aren’t- the campaign is two-fold: to make UPRN data (at scale) free so companies can adopt without cost (there are currently costs to use them at a commercial scale)- and secondly, to have this mandated as a reference point for all property transactions. Imagine not having to rely on a Vendor to be accurate regarding flooding, new windows, new boiler, insurance claims etc- imagine if all this property data was collated instantly from trusted and verified sources?

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    1. Tegs Dad

      Free?
      Somebody will end up paying for it. Very little is free in this world.

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      1. KByfield04

        If, in the future, it cost £10 per property per annum- but your sales could complete in 10 days and (as a result) fall-throughs went down to 1-3% wouldn’t you pay that?

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