11 Ways To Get Your Full Damage Deposit Returned Upon Move-Out

Counting on the money from your damage deposit to fund other aspects of your life after you move out? Follow these 11 tips to be sure that your damage deposit doesn’t become a sunk cost:

First and foremost, the deposit return begins at move in! Be diligent at move in and you won’t regret it later on.

1. Ensure you are present at the move in walk through with your landlord and be certain that they are taking the time to document any and all damage appropriately on the Move In Report. Do not sign the Move In Report if you are not in agreement with what is written down. If there is a cracked window – note it! If there is a stain in the carpet – note it! Sometimes landlords will say “oh that will be fixed next week” even so – NOTE IT!

2. Bring a proper camera, that date stamps your photos, and take photos of each room and any damage in the property at your move in walk through. If the landlord missed noting damage on the move in, but notes it on the move out – you could potentially be held responsible for damage that was already existing when you moved in. Photos help to prove when the damage was made.

3. When it comes time to move out – ask your landlord for a cleaning checklist. Use it during your cleaning and ensure you check off each item! People often miss things like cleaning the blinds, or cleaning the dust bunnies out of the bathroom ceiling fans. Ensure you clean all appliances well and don’t forget to pull the stove and fridge out and clean behind that too!

4. Ensure that you remove any and all items from the home upon move out.

5. Do not pile your garbage and furniture in the back alley for the garbage collectors, they will not take it all. Especially furniture. You will end up being charged for garbage removal.

6. Ensure you return all keys and garage door openers if applicable given to you at the time of move in.

7. Ensure the lawn is cut and or snow is shoveled.

8. Ensure you pick up any pet droppings.

9. If you caused any damage – fix it! For example, you hung a wall mounted tv and there are enormous screw holes in the walls. This is NOT regular wear and tear! You will need to patch the holes and paint or your deposit will not be returned.

10. When it comes to painting, you cannot just paint the holes you caused. You must paint the entire wall. Paint fades over time and if you patch only the holes, this will be very noticeable, and the landlord will need to paint the entire wall anyway.

11. Ensure you steam clean all carpets upon move out. This can be done simply by renting a rug doctor from a grocery store at a low cost and providing your landlord the receipt.


Follow these steps, and you will likely receive your deposit back. Have other questions about being a tenant in a managed property? Ask us here! We’re happy to help.


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