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N Cal Atty
N Cal Atty, Lawyer
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What is the difference between deposit and fee? which is refundablle

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What is the difference between deposit and fee? which is refundablle and which is not?
Please clarify the context in which those words are being used.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Some refer to a deposit as being refundable and fee's as not refundable. Then there are others that want to say that some deposits are nonrefundable and fee can be either refundable or nonrefundable.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Example: Washington state has laws concerning deposits and fees that we should understand. When you moce into a rental unit a deposit and a fee are usually required. The difference between a deposit and a fee is that one is refundable and the other is not. A deposit is an amount of money that a tenant must pay before or at the time he/she moces in. The deposit is often refunded at the end of the rental period IF it was not used to compensate the landlord for damage or repairs. A fee is an amount of moneyh that a tenants pays to the landlord for his or her use.The landlord might use the money to shampoo the carpet when you and your pet leave or to hire a cleaning service. Don't expect a fee to be returned. Arizona AAR has chosen to state that deposits and fee's can be either refundable or nonrefundable. So confusing!

It is confusing because every State has its own laws.

In general, a fee is not refundable and a deposit may be refundable. There is no federal definition that covers every situation.

Please tell me if you require additional information.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Is there any law that states that for Arizona besides the interpretation by the AAR Arizonia Association of Realtors?

Is this in the context of a residential rental agreement? Or an agreement for the sale of real estate?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

rental but sales also have deposits. I just have a hard time trying to understand how the industry and the associations can set the rules or laws?


In a real estate sale transaction, there is usually a deposit of what is called earnest money, which is generally forfeited to the seller if the buyer fails to complete the contract.

Residential rental security deposits are addressed in the Arizona Residential Landlord - Tenant Law, see
which summarizes the statutes as follows:
"The maximum amount that a security deposit can be is one and one-half months rent in addition to the first month's rent. A.R.S. § 33-1321(A). Security deposits do not include charges for cleaning or redecorating the unit. A.R.S. § 33-1310(14).
Within fourteen business days after termination of tenancy, landlords must refund either all of the security deposit or the remainder of the security deposit after taking deductions. If deductions are taken, the landlord must also provide a written itemized list. A.R.S. § 33-1321(D). If the landlord fails to comply, then the tenant can receive damages in an amount equal to twice the amount wrongfully withheld. A.R.S. § 33-1321(E). Landlords must also give written notification that the tenant may be present during the move-out inspection that will be used to determine itemized deductions from the deposit. A.R.S. § 33-1321(C). However, the landlord does not have to meet this requirement if he or she is evicting the tenant for a material and irreparable breach and he or she has reasonable cause to fear violence or intimidation by the tenant. A.R.S. § 33-1321(C)."

I hope this answers your question.

If not, please tell me what other information you require.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Then is a pet deposit or cleaning deposit refundable?


What is the status of a pet fee or cleaning fee?

A pet deposit is to cover any damages caused by the pet, and it is refundable if the pet causes no damage. A cleaning deposit is also refunded if the unit is returned to the lessor in clean condition.

A cleaning fee or pet fee is not refundable in Arizona.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Ok, It seems like I'm whipping a dead horse. What you just answered is my reasoning but then the say: Pet deposit (nonrefundable)or Cleaning deposit (nonrefundable) and then they alledgely can hold the money. This is why I feel that it should all be a uniform definition. I really understand why the tenants get confused.

Thanks for the help.

Arizona does not regulate the language of residential the leases the way some other States do. So it appears to be legal to call something a nonrefundable pet deposit or cleaning deposit in Arizona, even though most people would call any "nonrefundable deposit" a fee.

N Cal Atty and 2 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you.

Thank you for accepting my answer.