11 Small Ways to Waste Your Security Deposit

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

We all know that big damages take a big hit out of your security deposit, but little damages add up too. Look out for these things when you're moving out.

Call me overly optimistic, but I always believe I’m going to get my full security deposit back when I move out of an apartment.

Why? Because I put my notice in on time, pay my last month’s rent, and leave the place clean and damage-free. And after I move out, I skip to the mailbox every day, fully expecting to see a big fat check from my old landlord – and then it happens. I open the envelope one day to find a slightly less than big fat check, with a laundry list of tiny charges that “exceeded normal wear and tear.” And I’m furious and vow that next time, things will be different. Next time, I’m going to beat normal wear and tear.

But there’s the rub. What’s normal wear and tear to a tenant isn’t always normal to a landlord, and you could end up with a bunch of small charges if you don’t look out for the little things when you’re moving out. Like these…

1. Tiny holes in the wall

You’ve hung up some pictures while living in your rental, and now the pictures have come down and left tiny holes in their place. They may seem barely noticeable to you, but they won’t to your landlord. So patch them up before you leave. This Old House recommends putting a small amount of spackle in the hole, letting the spackle dry, and sanding over the spot to smooth it out. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to patch up every wall.

2. Discoloration in tile grout

Tile grout stains over time, especially in the kitchen. Even a small amount of discoloration makes the floors seem dirty, and your landlord may charge you a cleaning fee. Thankfully, even the worst stains have a quick fix: Spray a mild bleaching product like Clorox Clean-Up on the grout, wait a few moments, and wipe clean with a paper towel.

3. Unhinged cabinets

Cabinet hinges can come loose (or the screws fall out entirely) after several months of use. Tightening or replacing the screws on the inside hinge will put the door back into place.

4. Bent, rusted, or dirty blinds

If your window blinds aren’t clean and neat, your landlord may charge you a cleaning or repair fee. Open the blinds and check each one for dust, bent spots, or rust. Wipe the dust off with a rag. Straighten out small bent spots. For rust, look for a product designed to remove it and follow the directions carefully. Otherwise, you might strip the paint off the blind.

5. Stained drip pans

Electric stoves have aluminum bowls underneath the heating coils to catch spills. Over time, these drip pans accumulate spills and start to rust. A landlord once charged me $6 apiece for each drip pan. Had I known that beforehand, I would have replaced them myself. You can get replacement drip pans for about $2 each at a home improvement store like Lowe’s or Home Depot.

6. Mild pet odors

Pet owners are desensitized to the smell of their pets, but your landlord probably isn’t. Dogs and cats leave a distinct odor that lingers after you clean. Go back in your rental after you move out your pets and coat the floors in baking soda. Let the baking soda sit for several hours and then vacuum or sweep it up. No more pet smell.

7. Missing or dead light bulbs

Some landlords charge for missing light bulbs. My landlord charged me $5 apiece for the blown-out light fixture in my living room. Play it on the safe side and replace the bulbs before you leave. And you don’t need to use your good CFLs – anything will do, as long as the light turns on when the landlord walks in.

8. Electrical cover plates

Light-switch and outlet covers attract dust, and when the rental is empty, they really stick out. Use a mild all-purpose cleaner and a rag to polish each one before your landlord charges you for replacements.

9. Dirty light fixtures

Interior light fixtures and ceiling fans love dust, and exterior light fixtures are bug graveyards. But you have to clean both before you move. For the interior fixtures, a long-handled duster (Swiffer has a great one) or even a broom will work. For outside fixtures, use a small Phillips head screwdriver to unhook the globe, and then wash it out with warm water and mild dish soap.

10. Clogged drains

Once you stop using a sink, it’s easy to forget about a mild clog, but your landlord will probably charge for it. Lifehacker has several ideas for clearing a clog yourself (without having to buy an expensive drain cleaner). My favorite: popping a few Alka-Seltzer tabs down the drain and letting them fizz away the gunk.

11. Smoke detector batteries

Don’t forget to check the smoke detectors before you leave. If the battery is dead, replace it. Otherwise, your landlord could charge you for a more expensive replacement. You can find replacement batteries pretty cheap at super centers like Wal-Mart or Target.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 8 Great Travel Freebies You Can Get in 2017

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,019 more deals!