Wandsworth has the lowest empty homes ratio of London Boroughs, at 1.2 empty homes per thousand. As this article highlights, this compares very favourably to other Boroughs including Lambeth (6.6), Merton (7.3) and Westminster (2.4).
The article references the availability of powers of compulsory purchase (using powers in the Housing Act 1984) to encourage reticent owners to bring properties back to a habitable standard, or indeed to deal with properties in unknown ownership, though the latter is a most likely a rare occurrence.
As alluded to, often in the case of empty homes the threat of CPO is sufficient to kick start some action. In some instances it may be necessary to start formal procedures, such as securing resolutions from members to use CPO powers. However, using an undertaking to secure commitment from the owner to carry out works matched by a commitment from the authority not to use CPO powers if those works are done should allow the CPO process to be either aborted or uncontested.
When advice and support from the council, including the offer of loans and grants did not persuade the owners to take remedial action, the town hall warned it was considering a compulsory purchase order and this had the desired effect. The property was completely repaired, renovated and modernised and is now being rented by a local family. “Bringing empty and derelict homes back into use is an important area of work for all councils so I’m proud we are leading the way in London. There are at least 45 families who have been given the keys to a home in the past year as a direct result of our efforts.