While homeowners were being stung by shrinking property values, renters across the state found themselves having to dig deeper into their pocketbooks in the third quarter, according to a report to be released today, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The average rent at larger apartment complexes in California increased 5.6% to $1,413 compared with a year earlier, according to a survey by Novato, Calif.-based research firm RealFacts.

Los Angeles and Orange counties remained the state's most expensive market for rentals, while the San Francisco Bay Area posted the highest rent increases -- as high as 12.2% in Santa Clara County.

In the Inland Empire, which has suffered the worst of the housing market meltdown, renters caught a relative break as landlords raised rents at half the pace found in neighboring counties.

Although rents rose across the Southland, some analysts said they had been expecting to see even higher prices given the housing market meltdown, which turns many potential home buyers into renters.

"The supply and demand for the housing market are interrelated with the supply and demand of the apartment market," said Delores Conway, director of USC's Casden Real Estate Economics Forecast. Now, with tougher lending standards and a shaky housing market, "more people are choosing to rent rather than to buy."

Nick Galvan, who heads the real estate and property management division at Westside Rentals, a Santa Monica-based listings service, said he had already seen higher demand lately for the 500 rental units he manages in Los Angeles County.

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