(a) Hold the total amount of such money in a separate non-interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution for the benefit of the tenant or tenants. The landlord shall not commingle such moneys with any other funds of the landlord or hypothecate, pledge, or in any other way make use of such moneys until such moneys are actually due the landlord;
I would ask for proof of the deposit. If they cannot provide proof, it's possible they have already spent your deposit!
Also because of scams going on with short sales, make sure the person you are paying your rental checks to is actually the owner! Input your address here: http://www.hcpafl.org/
The address lookup is on the upper right of the web page.
Bottom line... you need to find a new place to live asap. Or... if you don't mind the inconvenience of having to let house be shown by Realtors to buyers, you may be able to negotiate a significantly lower monthly rent. Then you can save that money towards your deposit for your next rental--unless you can qualify for a first time homebuyer program.
I have a client that is getting $35k in downpayment assistance to buy a house. She will own her nice house in a nice neighborhood for less than paying rent!
New Tampa has many bargain priced homes that you actually may be able to buy.
Hope this helps you.
All my best,
Alma Rose Kee, P.A.
Charles Rutenberg Realty, Inc.