02/22/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Renter's Market Takes Hold, Tenants Gain Greater Leeway

Now it's a renter's market, too.

As the housing downturn deepens, rental rates are falling in many major U.S. cities, including New York and Los Angeles, and tenants are finding they have greater leeway to renegotiate their leases.

Early in the housing crisis, former homeowners were starting to rent again, supporting demand for rentals. Now, with more newly constructed condos being converted into rental units, landlords are struggling to keep buildings occupied. Apartment rents nationwide fell 0.4% in the fourth quarter from the third quarter -- the first drop since 2003, according to Reis Inc., a New York City-based real-estate research company. Apartment vacancies rose to 6.6% in the quarter from 5.7% a year earlier.

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