The department has announced nine pathfinder areas where the government will work with councils to find solutions for dealing with run-down properties.
Local government secretary Stephen Byers said: 'Derelict homes don't just scar the landscape. They make life intolerable for those still living there. Those who can, leave, those left are often trapped in negative equity.
'The knock-on effect is immense; it permeates our towns and cities. Declining areas destroy the fabric of our society.'
The pathfinder areas are Greater Manchester, Merseyside, East Lancashire, Oldham & Rochdale, South Yorkshire, Humberside, Tyneside, North Staffordshire and Birmingham & Sandwell.