The Art and Science of Getting Your Deposit Back

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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.


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Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates • 602-242-4592
Anthem Senior Living • 602-909-9550
Appliance Pros • 502-501-5501
Business Network of Anthem • 623-455-9630
Carroll Law Firm • 623-551-9366
Century 21 Real Estate - Jeff Huff • 623-223-1221
Creative Home Enhancements • 623-551-5409
Daisy Dream Homes Real Estate • 623-879-3277
Daisy Mountain Dentistry • 623-551-5250
Desert Foothills Air Conditioning • 480-595-0938
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Hand & Stone Massage • 623-551-6602
Kendallwood Design • 602-252-3844
Kodiak Roofing • 602-501-7717
Luv My PC • 480-703-6609
Merrill Gardens • 623-201-4881
North Valley Water Solutions • 623-551-0515
Preferred Business of Anthem • 623-551-0523 
Prickett Realty • 623-551-8111
ProSkill Services • 623-551-7473
RE/MAX Professionals - Mike Higgins • 623-640-7502
Rise Above Remodeling • 623-551-2013
Soft Water Plus • 623-551-7383
SonoranScapes Landscaping • 602-842-9948
State Farm Insurance - Justin Simons • 623-551-3700
Storage at Anthem • 623-226-8634
Sunset Cabinets • 623-687-6579
Thompson & McGinnis Attorneys at Law • 602-952-2666
Titan Tree Care • 623-444-8448
Titan Pest Control • 623-879-8700
Wyman Plumbing & Mechanical • 623-551-6688

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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.

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