Check out City-Date.com for public comments regarding different areas in Tampa.
Other areas to consider are Palm Harbor and Safety Harbor. These are both in Pinellas County, and thus closer to the beach, but a bit further from the airport. Neither is a compact community like Westchase, but Safety Harbor is a town with a real downtown and neighborhood-like feel.
I have a townhome for rent near Westchase. It's within walking distance to Bryant Elementary and Farnell Middle schools. 12557 Bassbrook Lane if you care to check it out.
You also have to be VERY careful who you rent from because there are some scam artists that know that they will soon list a property as a Short Sale and then you will not be able to renew your lease if needed.
For that reason, if you are in a financial position to become an owner in a year, you may want to live in a nice apartment complex. There are several available that are convenient to the Airport/Westshore Business District in the Westchase and Countryway area. The Arbors at Branch Creek are very nice and have a great resort feel and the prices are competitive. Also we have brand new apartments at the interesection of Waters Ave & Montague and the assigned Elementary is Lowry (A rated), Farnell Middle (better than Westchase's Davidsen) and Alonso High. Bus stop to Lowry & Farnell is within 1000 feet of the entrance. The High School is about 1/2 mile down the road. Airport is 10 minutes, Westshore 15.
So rather than have to do a background check on every possible landlord, take a safer route and rent in a complex.
Also the compensation to a Realtor on a rental in Tampa Bay is absurdly low so it would be unfair for you to expect a Realtor to spend any time showing rentals... the cost of the gas alone may not cover the small fee a Realtor may receive (especially those who have to split a possibly $100 commission with their broker).
All the best,
Alma Rose Kee, PA
There are many nice communities in the area near the airport. I would be happy to show you around this weekend. Feel free to give me a call so we can discuss your needd in some detail and I can send you some properties to look over.
Real Estate Consultant
Keller Williams Gulfside
Give me a call if you need some assistance.
Realty Service with Heart