As part of our Tech Insight programme, we have brought together a group of leading industry experts to discuss an aspect of data use that is key to the success of the UK property market: the use of the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) as a universal property identifier.

The URPN: What’s in a number is our new white paper that is based on this conversation. It sets out the benefits and challenges of widespread adoption of the UPRN and looks in detail at the far-reaching implications of this important initiative for our whole industry.

Following our open letter to government urging the adoption of the UPRN, we are now delving further into the conversation of the why, what's and how, of implementing this initiative. 

Key points are that:

  • Open access to the UPRN has the potential to transform the way the whole industry uses property information
  • Pinpointing individual addresses via the UPRN presents the opportunity to connect all the different data sets relating to a particular dwelling and speed up and streamline the whole property lifecycle.
  • The full spectrum of stakeholders including mortgage valuation and lending, the legal profession and property agents as well as homebuyers, renters and building owners stand to gain.
  • Universal adoption of the UPRN has clear advantages of clarity and efficiency that could have a positive impact on building safety.

The white paper identifies a number of challenges faced by the property industry in gaining acceptance of the UPRN.  These include a lack of awareness/understanding of the potential of the UPRN, a lack of capability and accessibility to open data within stakeholder organisations and the cost of the internal changes that would be required to fully utilise this data.

To address these issues, the paper pinpoints the need for collaboration across both public and private sectors. It calls on the Government to establish a dedicated Task Force consisting of representatives and champions from both the public and private sector and identifies the minimum amount of intervention needed by government around three key questions:

  • What, if any, other data needs to be made freely available to the consumer or property professional?
  • What different ways of funding this are available?

  • What tools are needed by the private sector, the public sector and the end consumer to realise the benefits identified by the ubiquitous use of the UPRN and what role should government play in these?

We hope you enjoy the first of three instalments of our new UPRN white paper series and find it as thought-provoking as our previous tech insights papers. The IRPM LinkedIn member forum is open for further discussion.