4. Where's the security deposit?
So, like most tenants, you gave your new landlord a security deposit — probably the equivalent of one month's rent — upon moving in. You made the check out to him, tucked the receipt away, and that was that. You'll get the money back when you move out, as long as there's no damage to the unit. No problem there, right?

Not so fast. As a result of too many landlords' misuse of security deposits — they spent the money immediately then had trouble refunding it — several states have enacted laws that essentially keep an eye on that money for tenants.

In those states — Florida, New Jersey, Kentucky and Massachusetts are just a few — the landlord is required to put the tenant's security deposit into a dedicated bank account. He must then provide the tenant with the bank-account information.

In Massachusetts, for example, the tenant is also due the interest on that money if and when it is refunded. If a dispute arises later and the landlord has not properly handled the security deposit, a housing-court judge may order that the landlord pay the tenant triple damages. In other words, triple the amount of the security deposit.

"So let's say I go smash the walls and the landlord deducts from the security deposit," says Michael Kelley, director of rental housing resources for the city of Boston. "If I go to court and say, 'You never showed the deposit information,' the judge could rule against the landlord and award triple damages.

"Landlords are often ruled against on a technicality, and we want to protect them as well," Kelley says.

5. Are pet deposits treated differently?
A damage deposit by any other name is still a damage deposit and must be treated accordingly under that state's law. So if you handed over an additional $1,000 as a pet deposit, it must be treated the same as a security deposit.

6. The landlord wants even more security deposit later
Let's say you've lived in the apartment for five years, with no problems. Every year your rent has gone up 3%. Suddenly, your landlord requests an additional 10% in security deposit.

What do you do? Most often, you'll simply have to pay. Yes, this one is not illegal. However, it may be if the request is for an amount that exceeds the percentage increase permitted under state law.

However, in every case, if the landlord keeps any part of the security deposit after you move out, he must provide a written, detailed invoice of his deductions. In addition, he cannot deduct for normal wear and tear — for example, things such as light scuff marks, small picture pinholes or fading or dirty paint.

7. The pests aren't gone, but at least the landlord keeps spraying

You have a bedbug problem, and the landlord has the building manager attempt a sweep. Big surprise — the bedbugs return within days. The manager tries, and fails, again.

The landlord is not really violating any rules, is he?

In the end, he could be. Remember the space-heater example. When it comes to health and safety, it's not enough for a landlord to take a Band-Aid approach. Laws in 49 states require that landlords provide a fit and habitable dwelling.

"When we see rodents or any other infestation, we know that there are other problems that need to be fixed," Murray says. "They're not addressing the underlying problem. They're not keeping up the building."

So what should you always do?
The lesson all tenants need to learn, advocates say, is to document all problems, make requests in writing and, if issues are not resolved, contact a government agency or tenant group for help.