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Could unique property reference numbers speed up the house buying process?

In the UK, the house buying process takes on average around eighteen weeks, but it can take a lot longer if there are any problems or hold ups. This has long been considered too much time and various initiatives such as Home Information Pack have been tried in order to reduce the time it takes to move to a new house. Currently, Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRN’S ) are being discussed as a measure to get people moving more quickly.

What is a UPRN

A UPRN is a unique property reference number that is allocated to every unit of land and property to make sure that there is a single clear record for each address. Local authorities are expected to maintain the address registers and submit them to a central address database called Geoplace. Home | GeoPlace LLP

UPRN’s were not freely available to the general public or commercial organisations until last year. However, it has since been suggested that using a UPRN to collate data such as construction information, local land searches, mortgages, and tenancy deposit information schemes will make the process a lot easier and simpler. It is argued that this will speed up the house buying process and save the public money on their conveyancing quotes.

Who Is Behind This Suggestion?

Solicitors such as Bond Legal Group, JMW Solicitors, as well as the Conveyancing Association have signed an open letter to Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, urging him to consider this option and save people money on their conveyancing quotes, as well as to avoid the headaches that are usually associated with moving to a new house and buying property. Industry bodies and agencies unite to back UPRNs in open letter—Property Industry Eye

Is There an Argument Against This?

Some people have spoken out against this idea on the internet. Conveyancing solicitors have a wealth of different opinions and not all of these have been positive.

It has been argued that using UPRN’s will add bureaucracy to the house buying process and will create additional work for the solicitors to do. This will increase rather than decrease their conveyancing quotes, which goes against the aims of the suggestion.

Other solicitors have pointed out that this information is already available elsewhere, so they are duplicating work, which they don’t really need to do. The readiness of this information may be good for buyers and sellers, but does not help the conveyancing industry.

It has also been argued that there was an attempt to collate this information through the ill-fated Home Information Pack that was introduced by the government in the Noughties. That did not work, and some solicitors argue that the introduction of the UPRN to collate information will go the same way.

There is a need to simplify the home buying process, but whether this will be done through the introduction of UPRN’s or another scheme entirely remains to be seen.

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