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In Bay Area's COVID-19 Rental Market Renters Suddenly Have More Negotiating Power

SAN JOSE (KPIX) - The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has caused the Bay Area's once skyrocketing rental housing market to come back to Earth.

"The balance of power has absolutely shifted," says Jeff Tucker, an economist with Zillow.

Tucker says potential renters and current lease holders have more leverage in negotiations with landlords than they have in years.

"The market is kind of static. And I think a lot of people are really struggling to pay the rent," says Siddharth Manu who recently signed a new lease at his San Jose apartment complex.

Manu says he was pleasantly surprised when his landlord didn't increase his rent.

"Usually, we have a six or eight percent increase," Manu said.

According to Zillow, rent prices are down across much of the Bay Area. In San Francisco, Zillow says rent prices declined 3.2 percent compared to the same time last year. In San Jose, prices fell 1.4 percent.

Oakland's rental market was the only to buck the trend, basically holding steady with a modest 0.6 percent increase in June.

Tucker says there's an opportunity to shave hundreds off your rent if you do your homework and are willing to negotiate.

"If you can say, 'There's this vacant unit. It looks similar to mine. I think I might move there. It costs $200 or $300 less than what I'm paying now.' That might be really convincing," says Tucker.

Some renters, however, are simply satisfied not to see their leases go up for once.

"This time when we requested a new lease for another year, our landlord sent the lease over with the same price and didn't ask any questions," says Kristina Brusco.

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