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