Almost 7 per cent of all privately owned houses and apartments in Brimbank are unoccupied.

According to 2016 census data, 4376 or 6.6 per cent of all private dwellings in Brimbank are sitting empty, up from 6.1 per cent five years ago.

Ardeer had the highest rate of unoccupied houses in the municipality, with 121, or one in 10 houses vacant.

Keilor wasn’t far behind, with 213 houses or apartments sitting unoccupied, representing about 9.5 per cent of the suburb’s housing stock.

In terms of sheer volume, St Albans had the highest number of empty dwellings, with 952 vacant houses or apartments in the suburb, which is known for its rental affordability.

Brimbank council’s community wellbeing director Kath Brackett said the number of unoccupied dwellings could partially be attributed to recent development not yet sold or tenanted.

“Alternatively, they could be existing properties that are on the market or between leases, vacant because the usual occupants are away on holiday or are second residences that are only occupied at certain times,” she said.

Tenants Union of Victoria spokeswoman Devon LaSalle said while Brimbank’s rate was almost half the state average of about 12 per cent, the figure was still “shocking”.

“The Victorian average is horrendous in itself but any sort of figure relating to vacant properties that could be used for rental is shocking,” she said.

Ms LaSalle said a tight market was compounded by sluggish median incomes that have not kept pace with steep rises in rents.