Census 2016 data shows the rising importance to the housing market of property investors, as the level of home ownership gradually declines.

When compared with the previous Census in 2011, the proportion of households with mortgages is essentially unchanged. But the proportion of households who own their homes outright has declined.

It means that, since 2011, total home ownership has dropped from 67% of households to 65.5%.

According to the new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 31% of households own their homes outright, without mortgages.

Five years earlier, outright home-owners were 32.1% of the market (and 25 years ago they were 41.1%).

The share of households with mortgages also dipped over five years, though only slightly from 34.9% to 34.5%.

The big growth has been in renters, whose numbers have risen by 11.5% over the five years and who now account for 30.9% of the housing market.

As the proportion of households renting gradually rises, the importance of property investors as landlords increases.

The Census 2016 figures indicate that while rents have risen gradually over five years, mortgage payments have decreased.

The Census shows that over five years there has been 17.5% growth in the national median rent, to about $335 per week – or $1,452 a month.

Conversely, lower interest rates mean that the median mortgage payment nationwide has fallen 2.6% to $1,755 a month.

Commonwealth Bank economist Kristina Clifton calculates that the average rent was only 70% of the average mortgage payment in 2011 but now is up to 81%.