Now that your apartment is speckless, it's time to compare it to the sheet you filled out when you arrived at the apartment that assesses what was damaged when you moved in. You did fill one of those out, right? It protects you from having to repair the previous tenant's damage. If everything matches up, then you can expect to get your full security deposit back.

But believe it or not, all landlords are not quite as honest as you would like-you may disagree about the cost of a particular repair, or if the repair is even your responsibility. Therefore, you need to document the exact condition of your hovel when you left it. Here's how to do that properly.

One way to solve these problems is to arrange a time to meet with your landlord after you have removed all of your goodies from the apartment and made any repairs. Walk through the apartment, and see what he/she expects you to pay for. Discuss everything right out in the open, write down the results, and have him/her sign the agreement. You're now free and clear of having any extra repairs taken out of your security deposit.

Taking pictures of your cleared out apartment right before you are ready to turn in the keys is also a good idea. Even get a friend to hold the front page of that day's newspaper within every camera shot - this will verify that the pictures had to be taken on or after that certain date (aren't we so Nancy Drew?).

After your foray into "Candid Camera," make sure you immediately turn all of the keys in to the landlord personally or send them certified mail. And make sure that you include a forwarding address for the return of your security deposit.