The percentage of empty privately owned U.S. homes rose in the fourth quarter, while rental vacancies fell sharply, a government report showed on Monday.

The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.7 percent in the final three months of the year, compared to 2.5 percent in the three months ended in September, the Commerce Department said. The rate was unchanged compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.

The residential rental vacancy rate fell to 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter from 10.3 percent in the prior three-month period. The rental vacancy rate was 10.7 percent in the last three months of 2009.