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1068 An Expiring Business Lease

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,068 – An Expiring Business Lease.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,068. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Take a look at our ESL Podcast Store that has some additional courses in Business and Daily English I know you’re going to love.

This episode is a dialogue about a business that has to renew or sign a new contract or lease for a place that they rent. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Jane: Our lease is up at the end of this year and we need to negotiate a new one.

Monty: I know, but if I bring it up first, the landlord will think I’m desperate to renew.

Jane: We are desperate to renew. We’ve built our business here, and it would be really difficult to uproot it and reestablish it elsewhere.

Monty: I know, but given our antagonistic dealings in the past, I’m afraid the landlord is going to jack up our rent and we’ll be forced out.

Jane: It’s in the best interest of the landlord to keep a steady business leasing his property.

Monty: He might not see it that way. He might see this as an opportunity to bring in a higher-paying tenant.

Jane: Or he may realize that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Monty: Or he might think, “Out with the old and in with the new.”

Jane: You won’t know until you contact him.

Monty: Right, but I think I’ll let him stew just a little longer.

[end of dialogue]

Jane begins our dialogue by saying to Monty, “Our lease is up at the end of this year.” Your “lease” (lease) is your contract that deals with something that you are renting. You could lease a car, for example. You could lease a house. You could lease an apartment. You could lease an office. All of these are things that you can sign a contract about and use if you pay the person who owns those things some money.

So, when you lease an apartment, you are renting an apartment. When you lease a car, you are basically renting the car, but we don’t use the verb “rent” (rent) for cars. We usually use the word “lease.” For a business, you can use either rent or lease. These are verbs that indicate that you are paying money to use something. “Lease” is also a noun referring to the contract itself, the legal agreement that you and the owner sign regarding the property or the thing that you are renting.

Jane says that their “lease is up.” When we say something is “up,” we mean it’s expired, it’s ended – it’s at the end of some period of time. In fact, in school sometimes teachers will say, “Time’s up” or “Your time is up” when they are giving an examination, a test, to their students. Teachers will tell their students, “Time’s up,” meaning you can no longer work on the test or the exam.

Well here, we’re talking about a lease that is up, meaning it is about to “expire” (expire). “To expire” means to end, in this case. “To expire” can also mean to die, informally. People say, “He expired.” The nicer way of saying that someone died is that he “passed away.” Here, we’re not talking about a person, but a lease that has expired.

Jane says, “We need to negotiate a new one,” meaning a new lease. “To negotiate” means to try to reach an agreement with someone, usually over something involving money or something of value. You could negotiate an agreement between two countries, for example. An agreement between two countries is usually called a “treaty” (treaty). Here, we’re talking about negotiating a lease.

Monty says, “I know, but if I bring it up first, the landlord will think I’m desperate to renew.” Monty is worried about bringing something up. “To bring something up” here means to mention something that the other person hasn’t talked about yet – to raise an issue or to introduce a new topic that the other person hasn’t been talking about or hasn’t referred to yet. Sometimes people will say, “I hate to bring this up,” meaning I hate to mention this because it’s perhaps something unpleasant.

But to bring something up doesn’t mean that it’s unpleasant, that it’s something that’s going to cause a problem. You can bring up anything as a topic of conversation, whether it’s positive or negative. Monty, however, is worried about bringing up the topic of the lease renewal because he thinks the landlord will think he’s “desperate to renew.” A “landlord” (landlord) is a person who owns a building, office, home, condominium, or apartment and who rents that property out to another person – who leases the property to another person.

The landlord will think that Monty is “desperate to renew” if Monty brings up the topic first. “To be desperate” (desperate) is to be in a difficult situation, a difficult problem with very few options, with very few choices. Someone who is desperate is someone who is in a lot of trouble and doesn’t know what to do or doesn’t have many options in terms of getting out of the trouble that he’s in. Monty doesn’t want to seem “desperate to renew” his lease. “To renew” means to sign a new lease, to extend the period of time of the rental or of the lease.

Jane says, “We are desperate to renew. We’ve built our business here, and it would be really difficult to uproot it and reestablish it elsewhere. Jane is saying, well, we are desperate; we really do want to renew the lease. The word “desperate” is sometimes used, as it is here, to mean not exactly that you have no options, but that you really, really want a certain thing to happen.

Jane really wants them to renew their lease because they have built a business at this particular location. They may have a store or a restaurant, and it made have been there for many years, so they don’t want to move it somewhere else. They want to stay there. They’ve built their business there. She says it would be “difficult to uproot it.” “To uproot” (uproot) means to move from one place to another, especially from somewhere where you are comfortable and want to stay.

Monty says, “I know” – I understand – “but given our antagonistic dealings in the past, I’m afraid the landlord is going to jack up our rent and we’ll be forced out.” “Antagonistic (antagonistic) dealings (dealings)” are interactions or conversations with another person that are negative or that involve some sort of strong disagreement. If you fight a lot with another person, you are “antagonistic” toward that person. You don’t like them.

“Dealings” has to do with conversations – or “interactions,” we would also say – between one person and another. So, if you have “antagonistic dealings” with, say, the landlord, you have had a lot of disagreements and arguments in the past. We would use this expression, “antagonistic dealings,” when we are talking about a work situation or a business situation like this.

Monty is afraid the landlord is going to “jack up the rent.” “To jack (jack) up” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to increase, but to increase dramatically – to increase something a lot. If the landlord jacks up your rent, he or she increases it by a significant amount. You were paying $500 a month, and now you’re going to pay a thousand dollars a month. That would be jacking up your rent a lot, significantly. The “rent” here, as a noun, refers to the money that you pay every month or every year to lease the property.

“To be forced out” is a phrasal verb meaning to have to leave somewhere even though you want to stay. If a landlord forces out a person renting from him, he’s making that person leave even though the person doesn’t want to leave. The person who rents from a landlord, by the way, is called a “tenant” (tenant). You will come across that word in a second.

Jane says, “It’s in the best interest of the landlord to keep a steady business leasing his property.” If you say something is “in the best interest” of someone, you mean that it’s a good situation for that person. It benefits that person. In this case, it is in the best interest of the landlord – meaning it would be a good thing for the landlord – to keep a steady business leasing his property. “Steady” (steady) means without changing. If you have a “steady customer,” you have a customer who always comes back to your store, every week or every month.

A “steady tenant” would be someone who leases from a landlord for a long period of time. All landlords know that it’s better to have someone paying you some money for your property than no money, and so landlords like to keep tenants as long as they can, so at least they are getting money. Monty says, however, that the landlord “might not see it that way,” meaning the landlord may not necessarily have the same opinion of the situation. He says, “He might see this as an opportunity to bring in a higher-paying tenant,” someone who will give him even more money.

Jane disagrees. She says, “Or he” (again, the landlord) “may realize that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” This is an old expression: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” (bush). The word “bush” here doesn’t refer to one of our former U.S. presidents. It refers to a small shrub. It’s like a plant, but it’s a plant that has a lot of branches and leaves on it, typically.

The expression “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” means it’s better to keep something that you have and you know for sure will give you some benefit than to try to get something new with the possibility that you won’t get anything better if you give up what you already have. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say that you are working at a job, and you are making $20 an hour. You have an opportunity to leave that job and get another job that will pay you $30 an hour. However, you might not get the job. You have to quit your first job in order to apply for the second job. So, you would have to lose your job, your certain $20 an hour, for the possibility of getting a better job, but it might not work out. You might not get the job. And so if that happens, you would be without any money.

“A bird in the hand” – meaning if you’re holding a bird in your hand – that’s worth more than two birds that are sitting over there that you don’t have. Of course, to get the two birds, you have to let go of the bird in your hand and run over and try to grab the other two birds with your hands. So, that’s kind of the background of that rather complicated expression.

Monty comes back with another expression. He says, “Out with the old and in with the new.” This is another common saying or expression. It means to get rid of the old things in your life and bring in new things in your life because the new things will be better or more exciting. Jane says, “You won’t know until you contact him.” Jane is telling Monty that he won’t know the real situation until he actually talks to the landlord.

Monty says, “Right” – meaning yes, I understand, you are correct – “but I think I’ll let him stew just a little longer.” The verb “to stew” (stew) means to think and worry about something, especially without telling anyone else that you are worried about it or that you are thinking about it. It’s a negative thing.

If someone says, “I’ve been stewing all day over my presentation,” he means he’s been thinking about this all day, but he hasn’t talked to anyone else. He hasn’t gotten any help from anyone else. He’s just been there thinking and worrying about it. Usually if you stew about something, the idea is that you’re worrying about it, but you’re not really helping yourself. You’re wasting your time thinking about it.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Jane: Our lease is up at the end of this year and we need to negotiate a new one.

Monty: I know, but if I bring it up first, the landlord will think I’m desperate to renew.

Jane: We are desperate to renew. We’ve built our business here, and it would be really difficult to uproot it and reestablish it elsewhere.

Monty: I know, but given our antagonistic dealings in the past, I’m afraid the landlord is going to jack up our rent and we’ll be forced out.

Jane: It’s in the best interest of the landlord to keep a steady business leasing his property.

Monty: He might not see it that way. He might see this as an opportunity to bring in a higher-paying tenant.

Jane: Or he may realize that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Monty: Or he might think, “Out with the old and in with the new.”

Jane: You won’t know until you contact him.

Monty: Right, but I think I’ll let him stew just a little longer.

[end of dialogue]

If you’re desperate to improve your English, you’ve come to the right place. Thanks to the scripts from our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, you can start improving your English today.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. Come back and listen to listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
lease – a rental agreement; a written, legal contract describing the terms under which a building, office, home, or apartment is being rented by the owner to another person or business that will use it

* Jim signed a one-year lease for a new apartment closer to his work.

to be up – to have expired or ended; to be at the end of the duration of something; to be done

* Time is up! Please put down your pencils and bring the exam to the front of the classroom.

to negotiate – to try to reach an agreement with someone who has different interests and desires in order to achieve an outcome that both parties can accept

* They’ve been negotiating the terms of the merger for months.

to bring (something) up – to introduce a new topic of conversation; to mention something that another person has not already mentioned

* Have you brought up marriage in your conversations with Emily?

landlord – the person who owns a building, office, home, or apartment and is renting it out to someone else

* This window won’t open. Let’s call the landlord and ask him to get it fixed.

desperate – in a difficult situation with few or no options, and feeling fear and anxiety, especially needing help from another person

* Shane has applied for more than 300 jobs, but he still hasn’t received an offer. He’s getting desperate.

to renew – to extend something for another period of time

* Library books are due in three weeks unless you renew them.

to uproot – to move someone from a place where he or she is comfortable, established, and has strong relationships, to a place that is unfamiliar

* Military families have to uproot their children every few years when they are transferred to a different base.

antagonistic dealing – hostile or aggressive interactions that emphasize opposition or strong disagreement

* The politicians were criticized for their antagonistic dealings with certain citizen groups.

to jack up – to increase the cost of something significantly and very quickly

* Should stores be prevented from jacking up the cost of essential items when they’re in high demand, like during natural disasters?

rent – the amount of money paid each month for permission to live in a home or apartment or to operate a business in an office or building owned by someone else

* The apartment on Fifth Street was our favorite, but the rent is almost twice as much as it is for the apartments that are farther from downtown.

forced out – made to leave a place when one would prefer to stay

* If our competitors keep taking our customers, we’ll be forced out of business.

in the best interest of – benefitting someone; an ideal or very good situation for someone

* It’s in your best interest to build good relationships with your classmates. Someday they may become valuable business partners.

steady – constant; continuous; without changing; with a level amount

* The company has seen a steady increase in sales over the past three years.

tenant – a person who rents a property; a person who pays money to live in a home or apartment that is owned by another person, or who pays money to operate a business in an office or building that is owned by another person

* Are the tenants taking good care of the home?

a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush – a phrase meaning that it is better to value what one already has than to risk losing that for the uncertain possibility of getting something better

* James is considering leaving his job, because he thinks he can find something better, but I told him to wait until he actually gets an offer. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

out with the old and in with the new – a phrase meaning that it is time to make a change, leaving old things or old ways of doing things behind so that one can embrace new things or new ways of doing things

* Let’s get rid of this orange 1970s carpet and put in tile flooring. Out with the old and in with the new!

to stew – to think and worry about something, especially without involving other people and without seeking help or advice

* Stephen spent all weekend stewing over his presentation.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why does Jane want to renew the lease?
a) Because she doesn’t think they’ll find another building at the same price.
b) Because she really likes working with their landlord.
c) Because she thinks it will be difficult to succeed in another location.

2. Who pays the rent?
a) The lease
b) The landlord
c) The tenant

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to bring (something) up

The phrase “to bring (something) up,” in this podcast, means to introduce a new topic of conversation, or to mention something that another person has not already mentioned: “Sometimes teachers struggle to bring up bad behavior with their students’ parents.” The phrase “to bring (someone) up” means to raise a child, or to take care of a child and provide guidance while he or she is growing up: “Her parents died when she was a baby, so she was brought up by her grandparents.” Finally, the phrase “bring it on” can be used as a challenge, showing that one is ready to deal with something that will be bad, challenging or difficult: “You want to sue us? Bring it on. We have the best lawyers in town.”

to stew

In this podcast, the verb “to stew” means to think and worry about something, especially without involving other people and without seeking help or advice: “Many business owners are stewing over the proposed increase in minimum wage and how it will affect their expenses.” When talking about cooking, the verb “to stew” means to cook meat and vegetables at a simmer (a low or gentle boil) for a long time: “If you stew the beef for several hours, it should become more tender.” And a “stew” is the thick, chunky, soup-like food made by stewing: “They served a delicious stew with beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions.” Or, “Have you ever stewed rhubarb with strawberries and a little sugar? It makes a delicious dessert.”

Culture Note
Common Lease Provisions

Most “commercial leases” (rental agreements for businesses) contain many “provisions” (clauses; agreements about what will happen under specific circumstances) that the landlord and tenant must agree upon. For example, provisions might “stipulate” (state explicitly or very clearly) the amount and frequency of rent payments, the “duration” (length of time) of the lease, and the “premises” (the exact location covered by the lease). An “escalation” clause specifies when and by how much rent can be increased in the future. A “maintenance” clause specifies which types of “maintenance” (repairs; taking care of the building) are the responsibility of the landlord, and which are the responsibility of the tenant.

Many leases contain provisions for “exclusivity,” meaning that only the tenant may operate the business on the premise, and that the tenant may not “sub-lease” (accept money from another person to operate the business) to another business. Leases can also contain clauses about competition, specifying that the landlord will not rent “adjacent” (immediately next to) or nearby properties to similar businesses.

In a “troubled economy” (a place and period of time with slow economic growth and many businesses closing), it is common to see “landlord solvency” clauses, which stipulate what will happen if the landlord’s “mortgage company” (the company that provides a loan to buy the property) “forecloses on the property” (takes the property away from the owner, because he or she has not made payments on the loan).

Finally, commercial leases might include a “renewal option” and/or a “purchase option.” A “renewal option” specifies whether and how the tenant will be allowed to “renew” (start again) the lease at the end of the “lease term” (the period of time that the lease covers). A “purchase option” specifies whether the tenant will have the “option” (choice) of buying the property when the lease “expires” (ends).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c