The city council has seized - and will sell - two abandoned properties in Northwood after the owner racked up £12,000 in unpaid council tax bills.
The terrace properties on Cardwell Street had fallen into a severe state of disrepair after being left empty since 1993 and 2010.
Vacant, boarded up, houses often have a negative impact on communities, attracting an increase of anti-social behaviour such as fly tipping, graffiti and burglary.
The city council has special powers to seize and sell empty properties when the owner owes large sums of money in council tax.
It has to register the debt with the court and seek approval to sell individual properties in order to recoup the money owed.
Both houses on Cardwell Street will be marketed and sold at auction. The debt and any costs incurred by the city council will then be deducted from the proceeds and returned to the public purse.
The money will be spent on vital frontline services which help to protect the most vulnerable in society.
After the debt and costs have been deducted, the owner can apply to the court to claim any remaining funds.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “Empty properties have a negative impact on housing estates, potentially affecting property prices, demoralising residents and, often, leading to an increase in anti-social behaviour such as squatting, fly tipping and vandalism.
“We will not tolerate people simply abandoning properties and failing to pay their council tax bills, which they are still legally obliged to do even if they have left the house empty. They are not only affecting the community, they are also effectively stealing from residents across the city by not contributing to the public purse.
“Home owners and landlords who are guilty of this should be warned – we have powers to seize properties, sell them and take back what we are owed and we will do just that. However, this action is a last resort and we would always encourage anyone who is struggling to keep up with their council tax payments to call our team on 01782 233777 to try to resolve the issue.”