Equity Residential, the largest apartment REIT in the nation, has promoted its president to chief executive officer. Bruce Duncan, who joined Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) nine months ago, will replace Douglas Crocker II as CEO. Crocker reportedly expressed his desire to retire recently after serving as CEO for 10 years. He will remain on the company’s board as vice chairman.

The announcement comes less than one month after sister REIT Equity Office Properties Trust promoted its chief operating officer to chief executive officer. Sam Zell is the chairman of both REITs.

Duncan formerly worked for Cadillac Fairview Corporation, a Toronto retail and office firm.

"Doug’s leadership, vision and drive have made Equity residential the paradigm of the multifamily industry," says Sam Zell, Equity Residential’s chairman.

"I am confident that Bruce [Duncan] will continue to lead Equity Residential with the same principles and values that have been the foundation of our success," says Zell.

The corporate reorganization of both Equity Office and Equity Residential comes at a time when both the office and apartment sectors are coping with harsh operating climates. Many apartment REITs have cut their dividends, and landlords throughout the nation are offering their tenants costly concessions.

Equity Residential owns or has investments in 1,054 properties in 36 states with a total of 226,742 units. Equity Office is the largest REIT and publicly held owner of office properties in the nation.