Running electoral registration - England

What records can be inspected to assist with maintaining the property database?

What records can be inspected to assist with maintaining the property database? 

You should inspect other local authority records to assist with identifying new residential properties and those that have undergone a change of use, as well as those that are empty, non-existent or are yet to be built. 

It is essential that all properties are placed in the correct polling district in order to avoid electors being included in the wrong electoral area. Particular care will need to be taken in this regard in respect of new properties and where there have been any boundary changes. 

Inspection of other local authority records, such as information held by other departments or mapping systems, can be used to help to ensure the correct placement of all properties within the property database. You should be satisfied that the local authority record is the one not containing any errors before you amend the property database.

Liaising with the following departments may also be of assistance:

Council tax - the Valuation Office will supply the council tax office with details of changes to rateable values for properties, for example when properties are newly converted, built or demolished. You should request a copy of this information. 

Register of households in multiple occupation (HMOs) - HMOs may cause particular issues when ensuring the residents are correctly registered. For example, post addressed to The Occupier may not be completed by any of the residents simply because the form is addressed to The Occupier of the building and not to any room or flat in particular. It is important that you have HMOs correctly coded in your property database, as you may choose to approach these differently during canvass. 

The Housing Act 2004 provides for compulsory licensing of certain HMOs. As part of the licensing scheme, landlords of certain HMOs are required to provide the licensing council with information including:

  • the name and address of the landlord and the managing agent (if there is one)
  • the number of separate letting units
  • the number of households in the HMO
  • the number of people occupying the HMO

In addition, a local housing authority will maintain a public register of the licences it has granted, which must contain, amongst other things, the number of rooms in the HMO providing sleeping and living accommodation (and, in the case of an HMO comprising flats, the number of flats).

You should arrange to inspect these records when reviewing your property database in order to ensure that all residents within HMOs receive separate registration activity.

Planning and building control - The development control section should be able to supply regular lists of planning consents. 

You should hold outline planning consents on record for information, until such time as full consent is granted. A developer might not start a development for many years and details of a consent may be changed prior to the development taking place. 

Information such as non-residential or listed building consents, may be irrelevant, and care should be taken not to add this information to the property database.

Inspection of building control records and liaising with builders can also give an indication of the state of progress of new developments and whether they are ready for residential occupation.

Instead of liaising with planning and building control directly, you may be able to gain the necessary information from the Valuation Office.

Local land and property gazetteers (LLPGs) - you should work closely with the gazetteer custodian to ensure quick, accurate updates to your property database and to ensure that UPRNs are attached to each property in your area, as this may facilitate matching with other official records. 

While a comprehensive and up-to-date gazetteer should be able to provide information on all units of accommodation, including rooms and flats within buildings, you may still discover changes to properties, which you may feed back to the LLPG.

Geographical information systems (GIS) - this tool can be very useful in locating properties and maintaining boundaries of canvass areas, polling districts and other electoral boundaries. Maps should be provided to staff undertaking house-to-house enquires to help them locate properties and to track progress of any new developments. 

GIS used alongside properly referenced property data can be particularly useful in analysing variations in returns, so can inform your planning for how to fulfil your duties to maintain the register.

Street naming -  street naming and numbering orders will give information about properties, new developments and any changes to road names and numbering schemes within a street. If such information is not already supplied you should ask for it.

Social services - social services will be able to provide current lists of residential and care homes. 

Land Registry - can be used to find information on property ownership and sales of property, which can provide a useful source of information on changes, particularly as the name of the buyer is given allowing you to send personalised correspondence.

If making changes to your property database based on information given in other local authority records you should be satisfied that the record you have inspected is correct.

External sources of information may also prove valuable:

Royal Mail - can provide information on postcodes. Postcode updates are published on an annual basis. You may also obtain postcodes for particular addresses, or vice versa at

Commercial and industrial premises - many have residential dwellings attached to them that might not be obvious. For example, flats situated above retail premises referred to as composite properties on the valuation list. Their use as residential may vary from year to year so making contact with shop owners and employees may help to identify residential dwellings. 

Last updated: 26 August 2020