The Art and Science of Getting Your Deposit Back

prickett fence

I’m hip-deep in the milestone experience of moving my daughter out of her college housing. If this is any indication of things to come, well, let’s just say “life is messy.” Tears will be shed, dumpsters will be fed. 

Like most renters, my daughter’s goal is to get her security deposit back. While this remains to be seen, the steps taken when she signed the lease are as important as the cleaning up before move out. The terms of the lease are the key. When in doubt, always refer to the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. 

In most leases, there is a “deposit” required. But, what is that deposit for? 

  • “Earnest deposit” is usually a non-refundable amount used to hold the home. It is often applied to the first month’s rent. 
  • A “security deposit” is an amount the landlord holds to protect against damage to the home. It is usually refundable if the home is returned in good shape. It is not “last month’s rent” as some might think. 
  • There might also be additional cleaning and pet deposits that may or may not be refundable, depending on what the lease dictates. 

Knowing what the landlord requires of the tenant (landscape maintenance, changing furnace filters, keeping up pest control, etc.) is huge. These requirements should be in writing and there should be a documented walkthrough before taking possession and again at move-out. The devil is in the detail. 

Wear-and-tear is a slippery slope. If the home was freshly painted before you moved in and needs it again after a one-year lease, there’s a pretty good chance that’s coming out of your security. On the other hand, if you’ve been there for 10 years and the carpet is shot, it would be unreasonable for you to foot that bill. Obvious damage is a different story.

In the end, be smart, be informed, and be considerate. And don’t make your dad clean the toilet.


Get Chris in your inbox. Subscribe to the North Phoenix Newsletter or the Anthem Newsletter

Chris Prickett
Former contractor, former home inspector and funny guy, Chris Prickett is owner and designated broker of Prickett Realty. A New Jersey native, Prickett has been a top-producing REALTOR® in North Phoenix over the past decade. He has been a columnist since 2005. Over the Prickett Fence is published weekly by In&Out Publications.
Chris Prickett on Email

Chris Prickett

Former contractor, former home inspector and funny guy, Chris Prickett is owner and designated broker of Prickett Realty. A New Jersey native, Prickett has been a top-producing REALTOR® in North Phoenix over the past decade. He has been a columnist since 2005. Over the Prickett Fence is published weekly by In&Out Publications.

chrisprickett has 84 posts and counting.See all posts by chrisprickett