A get-tough campaign is to be launched in a bid to bring more than 10,000 unoccupied properties in Birmingham back into use.

Owners who fail to heed warnings from the city council will be issued with compulsory purchase orders under the new push.

Those whose property has remained empty the longest will be especially targeted to help alleviate the city's 30,000-strong housing waiting list.

Earlier this week, The Birmingham Post highlighted the plight of one former Birmingham resident whose family home was taken off him by the city council after being left empty for 16 years.

Council chiefs are concerned that nearly three per cent of houses in the city are currently empty. They also believe empty properties, some of which have remained unoccupied for many years, are a magnet for anti-social behaviour and lower the tone of neighbourhoods.

The majority of the empty 10,553 homes - 9,441 in total - are privately owned.

Councillor John Lines (Con Bartley Green), cabinet member for housing, said: "Many of these houses have been empty for years. Neighbours complain repeatedly. A boarded up house is an eyesore. It's a magnet for flytippers, vandals, drug-users and vermin.

"It's also a complete waste when so many families need and deserve a decent home. We must do everything we can to bring empty homes back into use."

A five-year strategy aimed at further reducing the number of empty homes is to be launched by the authority on November 26.

Empty homes are a national problem. Across England there are just under 300,000 properties that have been empty for more than six months, with the vast majority (86 per cent) in the private sector.

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) represent the last resort for local authorities which are required by law to take every step to encourage private owners to deal with the situation. The authority will withdraw the CPO if a property is improved by the owner and occupied.

Birmingham has significantly reduced the number of empty private properties in recent years.

In 2003 there were more than 18,000 which was reduced to 10,876 by April 2006.

A particular focus for the new strategy will be on private properties that have been left empty for a long period of time.

Since 1998 the authority has issued 137 CPOs. It has a £2.2 million fund to spend on refurbishing private homes obtained in this way.

Last December it highlighted how a house in Paddington Road, Handsworth that had been empty for a decade was brought back into use following a cash injection.

The local authority has also strengthened its empty property division from one officer to a team of six in recent years. It stresses it has adopted a more "proactive" rather than "reactive" role in addressing the problem using new powers given to local authorities.

In the first instance, homes that have been empty for more than five years will be targeted.

Owners will be contacted and invited to have their property advertised on an on-line "match-making" service highlighting empty properties and linking them to a buyer. If they do not agree, the property can still be placed on the site, but without any information about the address or owner, other than the area code.

Coun Lines said: "The success Birmingham has had in tackling empty properties has been considerable. We will continue to work with local communities and a range of organisations to ensure the city has the largest, highest quality housing stock possible to accommodate local people."