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Attorney: New bill gives no incentive to pay rent, resolve landlord disputes

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tenants at Citrus Grove Apartments in St. Pete are fighting back after they say a string of landlords have ignored complaints about unsafe living conditions.

The city also threatened to shut off their water over a $40,000 unpaid bill by the complex. While a deal has been reached for the complex to pay the water bill back, an attorney says both property and human rights have been violated because of the conditions there. 

There was also a suggestion for the city or state government to step in.

This might have you, asking what can you do if you're a renter and have a problem where you live? Legal advocates recommend going through mediation with the help of the county and seeking a surety bond that allows you to pay your rent to the courts instead of your landlord while you sort out your legal case.

But, a new bill would remove the requirement that you pay that money to the court. We talked with an attorney who is the chair for the Florida Bar's real property, probate and trust section. Attorney Brenda B. Ezell told 10News under the bill, renters could opt to not pay rent, and there would be no incentive to resolve the court case. 

But, renters could still have to pay back rent if a judge decides it's owed.

If the bill passes, there could be a huge shift with rentals-- requiring larger security deposits and leases could be written to waive your rights under the statute.

Here are some answers to some common Landlord/Tenant & Eviction questions from Bay Area Legal Services. 

Here's the notice you should provide your Landlord if you are considering withholding rent.

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