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Land Registry admits limits of property reference numbers

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(13 May 2022)

HM Land Registry has hailed the role that unique property reference numbers can play in speeding up the conveyancing process but revealed that they cannot be used as the agency’s ‘unique identifier’ for addresses.

The government confirmed last year that it wanted to see UPRNs ‘baked’ into the housing market to make the home buying and selling process more efficient. UPRNs were added to a property information form designed by the upfront information branch of the Home Buying and Selling Group, a stakeholder body helping the government.

Discussing the role of UPRNs in improving the property chain at a GeoPlace conference this week, Andrew Trigg, interim director of digital, data and technology at Land Registry, said the agency recognised the benefit of using UPRNs in its data as much as possible ‘because of its utility elsewhere’. But UPRNs cannot be used as Land Registry’s ‘unique identifier’ for addresses because of the complex relationship between titles and addresses.

The conference heard that titles are not the same thing as addresses and some titles do not relate to ‘addressable’ property, such as a field. With a housing estate under development, ‘often you will want to register the property before it has an address’.

Trigg added: ‘There are different situations where the UPRN and address are not directly relatable to the property. It means we cannot use UPRNs as our unique identifier but it does cover about 82% of our titles. UPRNs are useful… but we have to have our own internal address mechanism.’

Robert Stevens, head of property risk at Nationwide Building Society, told the conference that the building society’s ‘risk hub’ enables it to make quicker, more informed lending decisions and UPRNs were chosen as the ‘central string’ for all of its data. While data is important, ‘we have to make sure the quality of the data is right,’ he added. ‘I have seen instances of multiple addresses linked to a UPRN.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)