Renters

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St. Pete's Guide for Renters

The City of St. Petersburg is committed to helping renters attain safe and secure housing by enforcing housing habitability standards and discouraging evictions through strong tenant protections. This guide helps tenants through the rental process – from finding the right place to finding legal help with eviction, if needed.

Preparing to Rent  |  Before You Sign the Lease |  Protect Yourself  |  Renters' Rights  |  Eviction Resources


Preparing to Rent

Budgeting for Your Rental

Before looking for the perfect place to rent, start by getting to know your budget and understanding all the costs associated with renting. Generally, renters should use no more than 30% of their gross income for rent.

Common upfront costs:

  • Application fee(s)
  • First and last month's rent
  • Pet deposits
  • Renters insurance
  • Security deposits

Common recurring costs:

  • Amenity fees
  • Pet fees
  • Parking fees
  • Utilities

Resources

Finding a Rental Unit

Search Tool for Affordable Apartments

Jamestown Apartments

The Jamestown Townhouse and Apartment Complex is a 76-unit residential community designed for low-to-moderate-income residents. This unique housing community is owned and operated by the City of St. Petersburg and is located close to the heart of the City's downtown area. 

Jamestown is a family-oriented residential community close to schools, shopping, and public transportation. It is operated by an on-site manager and maintenance staff. Management encourages Jamestown residents to seek home ownership and supports that effort through a variety of City and federal housing programs, and homebuyer education classes

Watch the Jamestown Virtual Tour

Named after the community activist Chester James, the townhouse section was the first of a four-phase redevelopment planned for the entire Jamestown residential area, an area formerly known as Methodist Town. The redevelopment combined an extensive residential rehabilitation program with total redevelopment of the area and new construction. Planners wanted to incorporate positive elements of the existing neighborhood with new amenities of pleasant urban living. The residences feature central heating and air conditioning, carpet or laminate flooring, electric appliances, and many with laundry connections.

The management/leasing office is located adjacent to the complex in the Dwight H. Jones Neighborhood Center, 1035 Burlington Ave. N. and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

For additional leasing information or to schedule a tour, call 727-893-7324.

Jamestown Apartment Floor Plans


Before You Sign the Lease

Before you sign the lease, make sure you read and understand the terms of the agreement. 

Always make copies of your lease or download a copy of your lease if your landlord uses a portal. It’s possible you lose access to your lease if the property management changes or if your account gets locked.

Most rental agreements are written because oral agreements can be subject to misunderstandings and are difficult to prove.

Before you move in and prior to moving out, conduct a walk-through with the landlord and document any damage with photographs.

Ask questions

  • What is the move-in/move-out process like?
  • How long is the lease term?
  • What utilities or amenities are included or not included in the rent cost?
  • How much is the security deposit?
  • When is rent due and how do you pay the rent?
  • Is renters’ insurance required?
  • Is subletting allowed?

Interior Walkthrough Checklist

The City has put together a simple checklist to use when doing a walkthrough of a rental unit to ensure it meets minimum standards.

Download Checklist


Protect Yourself

The City of St. Petersburg has tools that you can use to check properties for habitability, code violations, or evictions and be sure the unit you are interested in meets minimum housing standards.

Renter's Map

Use the Renter's Map above to check for a history of interior code violations or evictions at your desired rental unit. Having difficulties navigating the map? Contact the Codes Compliance Assistance Department at 727-893-7373 to get information about the history at a specific address.

Rental Agreement Red Flags

  • Rental opportunities that sound too good to be true probably are.
  • Be aware of vague listing details or being asked to sign a lease without seeing the property.
  • Beware of oral rental agreements, they can be subject to misunderstanding and are difficult to prove.
  • Be cautious about providing payment via wire transfers or cash apps.

Renters' Rights

Habitation Requirements

All rental units must be fit for habitation and maintained to minimum property maintenance standards, including but not limited to:

  • Doors/windows that function and lock; walls, ceilings, floors, and interior finishes maintained in good repair
  • Electric and plumbing maintained in good repair with hot water supplied to kitchen(s) and bathroom(s).
  • Permanent heating source must be provided, and all provided appliances must function as intended.

If there is an issue with your unit for which you have not assumed responsibility under your lease, contact your landlord as set forth in your lease. If your landlord does not address the needed issue within a reasonable timeframe, issues can be reported to the Codes Compliance Assistance Department at 727-893-7373.

Withholding Rent

You may be able to withhold your rent if your landlord fails to do what the law or rental agreement requires.  Failure to follow proper procedures to withhold rent may lead to eviction.  Please visit Pinellas.gov/landlord-tenant-information or contact legal aid for further information.

Florida Law does not allow a landlord to force a tenant out by:

  • Shutting off the utilities or interrupting service, even if that service is under the control of the landlord.
  • Changing the locks or using a device that denies the tenant access.
  • Removing the tenant's personal property from the dwelling unless the action is taken after the surrender, abandonment, or recovery of possession of the rental unit due to lawful eviction or the death of the last remaining tenant

Retaliation and Discrimination are Illegal

A landlord may not raise your rent or threaten to evict you because you reported a health or safety violation or filed a fair housing complaint. A landlord cannot treat you differently because of your race, nationality, disability, or sexual orientation, among other criteria. If you feel you have been discriminated against or retaliated against, contact the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights at 727-464-4880.


Eviction Resources

Seek help as soon as you know you will not be able to pay rent. Find Legal help before you receive a notice from your landlord. If you do get a “3-day notice” or any written notice that you have to pay or leave, reach out to legal aid the same day you get that notice. Your possible solutions depend on how soon you get legal assistance.

The eviction process moves fast. As soon as you are aware an eviction has been filed against you, seek legal assistance.

  • Be on the lookout for your summons. This will tell you how much time you have, to respond to the eviction complaint and deposit any past-due rent into the registry.
  • If you receive your summons and you’re not sure when your deadline is, call the Pinellas County Clerk’s Office at 727-464-7000.
  • You can call legal aid for assistance with your answer or use the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Defense Form Builder to make it yourself.
  • You can file your answer, deposit your rent, and file any additional relevant evidence (photos, receipts, proof of payments) at the Downtown St. Petersburg Courthouse at 545 1st Ave. N.
  • If you are using the drop boxes in front of the courthouse, make sure your documents have your name and case number. Do not include cash payments.
  • You are still responsible for your rent payments as they become due. You can be evicted if you fail to continue to pay rent into the registry.
  • If there are maintenance issues at the unit, do not hesitate to call the Codes Compliance Assistance Department for an inspection and request a copy of your violation notice.

Find Assistance

The following agencies are available to provide assistance to renters facing eviction.

211 Tampa Bay Cares
211 or text your zip code to 898211
211tampabay.org
Free referral service for housing, food, health insurance, and more

Community Law Program
727-582-7480
lawprogram.org
Free legal assistance for low-income residents

Bay Area Legal
800-625-2257
bals.org
Free legal assistance for low-income residents, seniors, and veterans

Gulfcoast Legal Services
727-821-0726
gulfcoastlegal.org
Free legal assistance for low-income residents

Self Help Center
727-582-7941
mypinellasclerk.org/Self-Help
Procedural assistance for court-approved forms and procedures; only available for those not already represented by an attorney

Defense Form Builder
jala-docassemble.org
A questionnaire that will assist tenants in creating their response to the court when facing eviction

Florida Senior Legal Helpline
888-895-7873

Florida Veterans Legal Helpline
866-486-6161

Lawyer Referral Service
727-461-4880
Low-cost attorneys for hire, open Monday-Thursday 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

City of St. Petersburg Utility Customer Service Call Center
727-893-7341
Residents who are having trouble paying their utility bill can call to make payment arrangements, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday


Download the Guide for Renters

Download the Guide