We get many questions about out services from owners and investors regarding our services. We review our policies often and are updating them to better fit the current market terrain. Here are a few of the most common questions we get and our policies. We feel transparency is a must and strive to show this in our daily operations and our communication with owners and tenants.
We are family owned and operated. Brandon and Tammie started BLAZE in 2017. BLAZE over the past four years has grown to manage around 350 doors. In response to that growth we have continuously adjusted our style and team to meet the needs of our tenants and owner clients. We added our daughters Ashlie and Shelbie in 2020 and have trained them in our style of management.
Property Manager - Brandon Stewart. A licensed REALTOR® in the state of Texas. Brandon over sees the marketing, leasing, collections and overall management of the team. The buck stops here.
Administrative Assistants -
Ashlie - responsible for creating leases and communication with residents regarding issues and payments.
Shelbie - responsible for maintenance coordination, make-ready, property inspections, lease violations.
Accounting - Tammie, a 25 year veteran of property management handles all money and invoicing. Communication with owners and vendors regarding statements and billing.
BLAZE is a generational legacy business. We absolutely love working with our family and think you will too. And enjoy that you will be dealing and building a lasting relationship with the same family for years to come.
We keep it simple.
A lease fee - charged for the first full month of a lease is 20% of one month rent.
Monthly management fee - charged each month beginning in the second full month of the lease. 10% of collected rent.
Renewal fee - charged in the anniversary month when a new lease is signed.
Additional fees - Administrative fees may be charged during the management agreement. These are fees that may be outside the norm. A special visit to the property to check on sprinklers, an extra property inspection, etc.
Even the most desirable properties, priced well, will not lease quickly if they are not in top condition. Properties must show well and have “curb appeal”. We make sure your property is presented in a clean and attractive condition so that it will catch the attention of a good, qualified tenant. This includes cleaning the property, landscaping, any cosmetic repairs that may be needed. These can be done by you before we initially lease. We will provide advice and guidance for this. After this we prefer to handle any maintenance or cleaning between leases.
We want you to know what is going on with the property and can keep you informed as you want to be. A part of our initial consultation is to assess what kind of involvement you want to have.
In most cases, an owner, will want to be notified only of any issues. other want to know what is happening at every stage. We are happy to provide any information you wish.
During a management term you will receive the following
Marketing - notification that the property is being marketed and updates at your request.
Lease term - that a new lease has been signed, the rate and length of the lease. Notice of late payment and our actions to resolve it.
Maintenance - A notification and copy of the maintenance request. In most cases this is a notification only if under your reserve amount. If it is above the reserve amount, a notification of the request, our solution to the issue and the cost.
Renewal - Notice of an upcoming renewal and our recommendation to renew the lease or not.
Rinse and repeat.
All property keys are stored in our office inside a locked key control box, in a locked room, in our office. Every key set is coded and tracked. No addresses are on the key sets.
All keys are checked out by signing a log form.
In the case of units being turned and made-ready, the property is "vendor" keyed. Our maintenance team can use their vendor key to access the property. When placed on the market a new keyset is made and coded.
Company wide we use KwikSet Smart locks so that the key and rekey process takes little more than a few minutes and locks do not need to be replaced between each tenant. This lengthens the lifetime use of locks.
We have a key machine available to make copies of keys efficiently and at less cost to owners and tenants.
Our focus is in the residential market. We manage single family, duplexes, townhomes, small apartment communities of under 75 units.
We do have larger properties of 75 units and up. We have separate requirements regarding these properties and specialized fees and procedures.
We also manage small single unit commercial properties.
We evaluate each property on its own merit and the ability of the owner to make repairs that may be needed.
We do not manage properties that the owner is "strapped" and can not afford to make necessary repairs to the property or won't allow repairs. This results in a bad reputation for the owner and especially us. Properties must be clean and in good repair.
We do not accept properties that the owner wants to use their own repair persons or the do-it-yourselfers. This results in extended maintenance repair times and extended vacancies. We provide excellent maintenance teams at a lower cost than any other company or vendor in town.
Owners have an obligation to provide a residence that is relatively free of pests upon occupancy. If not, the owner is responsible for treatment(s) during the first 30 days after the tenant’s original possession date. The owner is responsible for maintaining the residence in a reasonable rodent-proof condition and rectifying any condition that would allow squirrels, birds, etc… to enter and nest. Infestations of mice, squirrels, vermin, and or poisonous insects need to be taken seriously, as they can cause damage to a property and can be a health risk to people. Infestations of this type are treated at the owner’s expense. This does not release the tenant from their obligation to keep the property in a clean and sanitary condition so as not to promote the attraction of rodents and or pests.
No pets may be kept on the property without BLAZE Property Groups written authorization. Pets include birds and fish in aquariums larger than ten gallons. Our properties have restrictions on number, size and type of pets. We recommend, due to the fact that 70% to 85% of today’s renters have pets, that owners allow pets – or be open to negotiation with a tenant who may have them.
We use petscreening.com for ALL residents, with and without pets.
For non-pet owners we require an affidavit to be signed through petscreening.com stating they are aware there is a no pets policy.
For pet owners we allow 2 pets, screened through petscreening.com. In addition a $250 Administrative Pet fee on lease signing and $25 monthly administrative pet fee per pet. These are kept by BLAZE Property group. Your property will be insured up to $4000 in damage by authorized pets.
Unauthorized pets are not allowed and taken very seriously. Once found initial fines are $100 plus $10 per day. For non-pet properties the pet must be removed within 5 days or we will have the animal removed and force eviction for violation of the lease.
Properties that do not allow pets can take up to 3 times longer to rent. We encourage all of our owners to allow pets and have the piece of mind that we will cover damages from authorized pets.
While a property is unoccupied, in addition to regular showings if it is on the market, periodic inspections are made to see that lawns and yards are maintained, the property is presentable, and that no vandalism has occurred. During periods of vacancy, it is physically impossible for our staff to accomplish the task of watering the lawn and shrubs. If this service is needed, we will assist in contracting for the service at your expense.
Utilities must be kept in owners name during vacancy periods.
During winter months heat is set to 59° and summer months is set to 80° to keep costs low.
BLAZE Property will renew and or increase rent at our discretion unless we receive notification otherwise 45 days before the lease term ends.
When making the decision on whether or not to increase rents, we consider market conditions, neighborhood conditions, resident payment history, length of occupancy, property condition, time of year and anticipated expiration date of any renewal.
Our standard rent raise is on average 2% of the monthly rent. Tenants are informed of this type of rent raise from the very beginning of their tenancy in the application and initial lease.
There are times after the tenants initial lease agreement, where the tenants needs to stay on a month-to-month lease agreement or renew their lease agreement for a shorter period of time because of pending job transfers, purchasing a property, financial reasons, etc… Unless the owner is moving back into the property or putting the property on the market for sale, we will allow shorter periods at our discretion.
If you sign a management agreement with us and your property is already occupied, an on-boarding fee is charged at 10% per unit or $100 which ever is lower. This covers the cost of getting the property and the tenant setup in our systems and any additional contact that may require. (sending notices, site visits, etc.)
We will immediately contact the resident and notify regarding the new management status and our policies and procedures.
If the lease is out of date or is not a standard lease, we will ask the renter to sign a new TAA lease with us to provide maximum legal protections for you and the property.
Pricing a rental correctly is critical. Incorrect pricing can end up costing an owner money in lost rent.
Over pricing causes the property to sit vacant. Under pricing results in a monthly net loss.
Before marketing the property we perform a market analysis to determine the best price the property will rent for in less than 30 days. We will re-evaluate the pricing based on showing activity and interest if it is not leased.
BLAZE Property Group uses multiple channels to market your property.
First we take as many high quality pictures as the property will allow. These are wide angle photos and 360° photos.
The software we use syndicates our listings to hundreds of rental listing websites as well as our own top search ranked website.
In addition we created a facebook buy/sell group for rental property. We also advertise in other rental buy sell groups. This is by far the most effective marketing strategy. We receive hundreds of inquiries each week. All inquiries are captured and re-marketed to as new properties come available.
Virtual tours are created for ALL of our rental properties so that customers see the home as it is and view it 24 hours a day.
Other agents are welcome to show our homes. We offer $100 fee to agents that bring us a qualified renter that signs a lease.
all showings can be scheduled through our website or by phone. We can accommodate almost any showing type.
Virtual Showings - An agent video chats with prospect to allow them to see the proeprty.
Self-showings - A prospect can register and schedule a viewing using our codebox system with a one time code. This is our most popular and safest during COVID.
Agent showings - An agent from our office will meet the prospect at the property and answer any questions they may have.
Virtual Tours - are available online 24/7 to view the property anytime, anywhere.
We are proud of our signs. They are professionally designed and built. First impressions are important and we want prospect to know they are dealing with a professional property management company. We call the little plastic hand written ones "Ugly signs".
The sign also provides vital information such as website and phone to direct them immediately to more information, pictures and tours.
Path To Leasing
After a prospect has expressed interest in applying they are invited to use our inline application system or visit our office. Application fees are $35 per adult that will be living in the home as well as any guarantors. (Guarantors must be on the lease as well)
Credit and background checks are performed using this information. We also perform landlord verification with questions to evaluate the renters performance with their previous landlord.
Once an application is approved, we invite the prospect to our office to sign their lease and pay their deposit(s) using certified funds. A property is not taken off the market until these are received.
BLAZE Property Group is committed to the Equal Housing Opportunity Laws, and we do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of Gender, Race, Color, Religion, Sex, Handicap, Familial Status, National Origin or Age.
We look at every applicant in depth. We look at applicants history to determine their performance in the future.
Tenant Employment and Income Verifications
We verify job title, job status, salary and prospects for continued employment. An applicant needs to earn at least 2.5 to 3.5 times the monthly rent in gross income to qualify for rental.
We pull a background check that has access to public records that tell us if the applicant has ever been evicted. This is a level of scrutiny that most other property management companies do not perform.
We contact past landlords to verify rental history and ask detailed questions about the applicant’s past performance. This information is entered into the results of the application for record and the owner is allowed to view this information.
The security deposit is typically 70-75% of one months rent and is collected at lease signing along with any other fees or deposits. Deposits are held by BLAZE Property Group in a trust account until the tenant vacates the property. Payment for damage to the property, due to neglect by the resident, is deducted from the security deposit to cover any cost of repairs. Any deductions from a deposit must be supported by copies of bills for the expenditure, or otherwise authorized in the Lease Agreement. Should the lease not be fulfilled, deductions are made for repairs and costs and the remainder is forwarded to the owner of the property.
Typically 8 pages. Oh, you mean lease term!
All leases are in writing and normally cover a period of one or two years. With the owner’s approval, during slower rental periods, we accept leases for less than one year in order to have the lease expire during a more active rental period. On occasion we may elect to place a tenant on a month to month or 6 month rental lease to accommodate sale of the property by the owner, a tenant’s pending departure, or moving the property into a more active rental period such as the summer. Renewal periods are set based on past performance.
*COVID-19* - During COVID all of our new leases are set month-to-month. We are restricted by government moratoriums on evictions for non-payment. This allows us to not renew the lease (which is not covered by the CDC or other unfair government mandates placed on YOUR property)
Occupants over the age of 18 must be on the lease. It is policy that anyone staying with the tenant longer than 30 days is considered a tenant and must be screened and added to the lease. Additional tenants are subject to the same screening requirements as the initial tenant. Tenants must abide by the decision of BLAZE Property and could result in termination of the lease.
At BLAZE Property our policy company wide is: Rent is due on the 1st of every month. A 3 day grace period is given to all tenants. Late charges begin on the 5th of each month. If a tenant moves in mid-month, rent is prorated and due before move-in. All subsequent months will be due on the 1st.
Absolutely! In fact. we prefer to send money this way. Your monthly statements will be emailed on the 15th. the same day we submit your funds.
We pay our owners, vendors, and ourselves on the 15th of every month. Why so late if rent is due on the 1st of the month?
We use this date for several reasons. 1) sometimes tenants wait until the last minute to pay on the fourth. If the payment date is on a Friday or weekend we may not post until the following Monday. It then has to clear the banking system and be deposited, with funds available before payout. We also require all of our vendors to submit any invoices for the property on or before the 12th of every month. To ensure timely payment of our vendors we process all billing during this time. The 15th of the month gives us time to perform your property accounting accurately so that there are no questions later.
Each case is as unique as your property.
1st, we will contact the tenant about their payment and remind them of their obligation. This clears up 90% of late-pays.
2nd, we will send a notice of late payment to the tenant via email, portal and USPS mail with account balance including late fees as well as a notice to vacate or pay. The balance and all late fees are due at time of payment. This resolves 7% of issues. Multiple instances of late payments can result in a non-renewal of their lease.
3rd, The remaining 3%, we will file for eviction in the local JP court district for your property. At this stage we will only accept payment of full balance due as well as court and filing fees. A tenant with an eviction filing (not judgment) on their record with us will not be renewed. Period.
All past due balances are placed for collection with one of our collection agencies.
**COVID-19** - Has presented many challenges in evictions for non-payment through the court system. Moratoriums and government intervention have prevented evictions for non-payment. Creative strategies have been implemented to remove non-paying residents that have shown no intent to pay or seek additional help avenues. In many cases, we assist those tenants that need help, find it as soon as possible.
Some larger markets charge 1 full month or more for security deposit. The Amarillo market typically runs 50-75% of one months rent. Our policy is 75% of one months rent, this can be adjusted per owner request. If an applicant has a questionable background, we can by our own judgement increase this up to 2 months rent to ensure compliance and secure against the risk of default.
BLAZE Property Group has a special trust account that holds all security deposits. If an owner currently holds the security deposit at the time of signing a management agreement, we require that deposit to be submitted to us. This ensures that the security deposit is held in trust and we will not have an issue in refunding to the tenant if required.
We have many tenants that pay in advance, sometimes up to a year. These funds are not disbursed until they are "used". Even if a tenant pays a year in advance, the money is held in "trust" until it is payable for the service (rent). You will still be paid monthly.
Most owners want to get "eyes on" their property on a regular basis. We encourage all of our property owners to visit their property every 1 to 2 years. In the case of long-distance owners we can arrange a video walk through of the property. We need 3-4 days notice before the scheduled date to contact the tenant and inform them of the visit.
Your decorator paint colors may be lovely, they can detract from a rental home and a wider audience.
We suggest an off-white (usually light gray) paint color for the walls in a semi-gloss sheen for walls and high gloss for trim and cabinetry. Not only are they pleasing to the eye as well, they cover well and are more easily cleaned rather than needing new paint with every new tenant.
All rental units including apartments, duplexes, condos, and single-family homes must have smoke detectors as required by the Texas Property Code HB 1168. All properties must conform to current code regarding smoke detectors in the home. We check this at the time of on-boarding and will notify you of the need to install smoke detectors or CO detectors. We are uncompromising on this and will correct any missing devices at the owners expense. All safety devices are inspected at the time of lease.
Texas Property Code is very clear on locks and security devices and we take the tenants safety in this regard very seriously.
Here are some things to note:
All locks must be rekeyed between tenants.
Keyless deadbolts are required on all exterior doors. (including the door from house to garage)
Peepholes or viewing portals are required on all exterior doors including the door from house to garage)
Pinlocks must be installed on all sliding glass doors.
A latch on sliding glass doors that works or a security bar, one or the other.
Window latches on each window. Either original or after market. Exterior windows must open and stay in the open position. Minimum of 1 per room.
There are many other requirements in the Texas Property Code. If we see that a property that is not in compliance we will notify the owner that the issue must be corrected.
We recommend all owners use our key system, for ease of use, convenience and cost savings. We use Kwikset smartkey systems that extend the life of the lock beyond one tenant.
We typically hold a $300-500 reserve for all properties that we manage to help cover any small repair items that come up. This reserve will be replenished with rent funds when maintenance has been performed.
No. We do not.
We have maintenance contractors that work almost exclusively for us. These maintenance tech have years of experience in the industry and with us. They are all-around technicians skilled in light plumbing, electrical, painting, sheetrock, air conditioning and appliance repair. We trust their work and quality and can save you money, time and headaches by using our team.
For outside vendors we have a list of providers we work with regularly. We can and do provide 10's of thousands of work to our trusted service companies monthly and in return we get VERY good pricing. Most owners "know a guy" and we respect that. But do you spend thousands with your guy? And will he give you the break our guys give us?
We are able to accommodate any reasonable request to send a well known vendor to a property. If you have a preferred vendor and want to send them to do the repairs - we can do it. However we would consider this an extra accommodation and you would be charged a $40 fee for the service.
The reasoning for this is they are not setup in our accounting or vendor system. We will need to check their background, verify licensing and insurance and set them up with a W-9 to be IRS complian. There is a liability if the vendor causes harm to the home, themselves or the tenant. Legal action could follow and we would be at risk by default for acting as a general contractor by dispatching that vendor. We must charge the fee to handle the additional accounting, liability. Our team is happy to provide a list of vendors that have already been approved and vetted and are included in our service providers.
Unless otherwise stated in the Residential Property Leasing and Management Agreement or restricted by property limitations, all utilities used on the premises are paid for by the tenant.
New tenants are advised to notify the appropriate utility companies to have service turned on in their name. During periods of vacancy, utilities need to be placed in the owners name with "care of" instructions and billing address, we will amke sure any bills get paid on time. Having the utilities on greatly enhances the showing of your property. Especially when it gets dark early or a quick cleaning is necessary to keep it in top showing condition. Where possible we will setup ATOs (automatic transfer orders) so that utilities are transferred back automatically when a tenant moves out.
Once an issue has been identified and caused by the tenant provie them with a lease violation and identify the clause that pertains to the situation. In the violation they are given the opportunity to cure the issue. Failure or refusal will result in a default of the lease contract and we will begin lease termination procedures. It usually does not go this far. But with correct and proper procedures and documentation the law is on our side.
This is the greatest fear of most new owners. We have this in our management agreement – in writing – to abide by our spending limits. Ordinary maintenance and repairs of less than $300 can be paid out of your account without prior specific owner permission, and you will see this in your monthly statement. If we think a repair might exceed $250 and if we are unable to reach you, we may initiate repair work even if it is higher than $250 as stated in the management agreement; for the following cases: (1) the health or safety of a tenant is an issue; (2) the property will incur damage if immediate action is not taken, (3) In instances where there is only one option to consider. We will not leave a tenant waiting in 90+-degree heat without A/C or without hot water, or a leaking roof while we try to contact you for permission to do the obvious.
In some cases it is just good practice. For example, if a vendor is called to diagnose a problem and a diagnostic or trip fee of $85 is charged and the repair will $250; this adds to $335. It is in your best interest to have the repair done while the technician is there rather than an additional service fee for the second trip.
Our policy is that charges and fees are paid first from tenant funds. This is stated and agreed to in our lease. If the tenant has a maintenance charge or pays late and received late fees, these are paid first, leaving the remaining balance owed as rent. If the tenant fails to pay all of the charges with their rental payment, your income for the month will be short because of this clause that all payments are applied to non-rent charges first.
The Texas JP court system only allows eviction for unpaid rent. Due to this restriction, we must collect delinquency and maintenance fees first which causes the unpaid amount to be rent only.
Maintenance requests can be submitted in a number of ways, the most efficient is the tenant portal. We accept request via phone, email, writing and answering service. We enter maintenance requests into our system as soon as they are received.
When it is entered in the system the tenant will be called for clarification of the issue and determine if a service call is needed or something the tenant can do themselves. (breaker, air filter, battery, disposal reset button).
We will send an appropriate service technician or vendor to remedy the situation or provide an estimate for repair to provide the owner.
Once the repair is complete we will bill wither the resident or owner and provide receipts and documentation.
For most properties, the tenant is responsible for yard maintenance. This includes watering, cutting grass, weeding, trimming shrubs and flowers. Alleyways, easements, driveways, sidewalks. The tenant responsibilities are made clear in the lease and at lease signing.
Sprinkler systems must be set for watering 3 times per week, at least 10 minutes per section. Sprinkler system maintenance is an owner cost.
For security, hadges and bushes should not obstruct the view from windows.
Owners should not expect the same level of upkeep from tenants that owners would do. They will usually only mow and trim.
Should an enforcement letter be received by the owner regarding tall grass/weeds it should be forwarded to us immediately. We do not receive these notices since they are sent to the property tax address. There is a deadline for these notices and a time to cure. If we do not receive these until after the dates have passed we can not put these back on the tenant. The payment will be the owners responsibility.
You hire a property manager to manage the property for you. We offer turnkey style management. Some of our owners prefer to be "out-of-the-loop" and other want to be kept informed of all actions. Naturally we will do our best to accommodate all of our owners. In the course of the management agreement we will simply take care of the things you have entrusted us to take care of on your behalf.
During the life of the management agreement these are the types of communication you can expect to receive.
Lease notifications - we have leased your property.
Renewal notifications - a lease is expiring and our recommendation regarding renewals
Maintenance requests under approval amount - notification of the request, the solution and invoice.
Maintenance requests Over approval amount - notification of the request, best action and estimated cost.
Notice of late payment
Notice of lease termination or eviction.
If your family member or friend is a licensed vendor we will treat them as an outside vendor and will follow guidelines set forth previously. An accommodation fee of $40 is charged for the extra accounting and insurance requirements.
Some owners request to do the maintenance and repair work themselves. We do not recommend this! It can cause conflicts with the tenant and owner. We understand saving money and make every effort to do so in our daily operations. Take into account the time it would take to do the repairs (what is your time worth), the down-time of the resident and the property (missed rent or concessions) and you may realize the cheaper, faster more efficient way is a contractor.
Smoking is not allowed inside 100% of the homes BLAZE manages. We will rent to tenants who smoke, but we require them and their guests to smoke outside. We make this very clear to them at lease signing. They are required to sign a no smoking addendum that they fully understand this at the time of their application, and it is also part of the lease agreement.