Two derelict houses have been seized by Plymouth's city council to provide accommodation for families on the city's housing list.
Officials used compulsory purchase orders on the properties on Grenville Road and near Mutley Plain.
They had been uninhabited for more than a decade after their owners died.
The council said contractors were working at the properties, carrying out repairs to bring the houses up to the government's Decent Homes Standard.
The council's Empty Homes Team secured an agreement with the Spectrum Housing Association to buy, renovate and manage the properties.
Councillor Ted Fry said: "Empty properties attract anti-social behaviour such as fly-tipping and vandalism and are a magnet for criminals and vermin. These problems cause distress to neighbours, devaluing and often damaging their properties.
"With so many families in need of housing in the city we simply can't tolerate the waste of properties lying empty for years on end."
Thelma Cunningham of the council's Empty Homes Team said that the message was "use it or lose it".
She said: "After having found that the owner had died and not left a will, we did all we could to trace the heir to the property.
"This failed, so we had to use compulsory purchase powers to purchase the property because of the distress it was causing the neighbourhood."
The money that the council paid would be kept by the courts for 12 years so any heirs could make a claim, Ms Cunningham said.