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1192 Using a Property Management Company

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,192 – Using a Property Management Company.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,192. 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. If you don’t, I’m going to sing the rest of this episode. So go there now. When you do, you can become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialogue about using a company to help you run a property. Now, you might not own any property, but you will learn some interesting vocabulary in this episode related to businesses and renting. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Sonia: Hello, Fickle Property Management Company.

Frank: Hello, I own an office building on Broadway Boulevard and I’m interested in hiring a property management company.

Sonia: You’ve called the right place. We help you advertise your vacant units, show empty properties, and screen prospective tenants.

Frank: The building is partially occupied right now and I want to be sure that any new tenants are financially sound.

Sonia: That’s why we require a rental application with financial details and check their credit history. We are very thorough.

Frank: Will you also draw up the rental agreement?

Sonia: Yes, we handle all of the rental details, including the deposit and delivery of keys.

Frank: What if tenants have problems?

Sonia: We are on call 24/7 and will send out someone from our maintenance department to deal with any problems.

Frank: This sounds like what I’m looking for. What is your fee structure?

Sonia: Oh, our services are very reasonable.

Frank: When can you start?

Sonia: As soon as you sign an agreement with us.

Frank: Great. Can you email the agreement to me right now? The building has some stopped-up toilets that need attention ASAP!

[end of dialogue]

Sonia says to Frank, “Hello, Fickle Property Management Company.” She’s answering the phone, of course. The word “property” (property) can refer to a piece of land or a piece of land that has a building on it. A “property management company” is a company, a business, that takes care of buildings such as apartment buildings and office buildings.

A property management company would be responsible for getting the rent from the people who are in the building. It would be responsible for fixing any problems in the building. In the United States, if you rent an apartment in a large apartment building, it’s likely that the building is run not by the people who own the building, but by another company – a property management company.

Sonia works for the Fickle Property Management Company. This is sort of a joke. The word “fickle” (fickle) describes a person who changes his mind a lot, or who isn’t very loyal to one person or to an organization. We might describe a fan, someone who likes a particular sports team, as being “fickle” if he only likes the team when the team wins. He doesn’t like the team when it loses. That would be a “fickle fan” – someone who changes their mind depending on the situation.

Frank says, “Hello, I own an office building on Broadway Boulevard and I’m interested in hiring a property management company.” The word “hire” here refers to signing a contract to have a business work for you. Sonia says, “You’ve called the right place. We help you advertise your vacant units, show empty properties, and screen prospective tenants.”

Sonia lists some of the things that a property management company might do. This includes “advertising your vacant (vacant) units.” The word “vacant” means empty, and is used to describe a building or a space within a building that is not being rented, not being used. If you say, “We have a vacant house,” you mean you have a house that isn’t occupied, in which no one is living. It’s empty.

Sonia says her company will “advertise” – will let people know about – “vacant units.” The word “unit” (unit) here refers to a space in a building. Sonia says her property management company, or the one she works for, will “advertise vacant units” in a building. It will also “show (show) empty properties.” “To show” means to let people look at, to give people a tour of. “Empty properties” refers to buildings or units within buildings that are empty.

Sonia also says her company will “screen prospective tenants.” A “tenant” (tenant) is a person who rents either a space in a building, or an apartment in an apartment complex or apartment building. We would call the person who is renting a “tenant.” So, if you rent your apartment, you are a tenant. A “prospective (prospective) tenant” is someone who is thinking about renting but hasn’t rented yet. A prospective tenant would be someone who would come and look at, say, an apartment that you are renting, and be interested in renting it but has not yet rented it.

“To screen” (screen) someone means to determine if this person is qualified – if this person is someone to whom you would want to rent a unit, in this case. We use this verb “to screen” in a lot of different circumstances. For example, a business might “screen applications” or “screen applicants” – people who want to get a job. The company will look through all the different applications and decide which people it wants to interview. That’s part of the “screening process,” we might say.

Frank says that his building is “partially occupied right now.” “To be occupied” means that there are people there in the building, renting in the building or renting spaces in the building. “To be partially (partially) occupied” means that there are some spaces or units that are rented and some that are empty. “Partially” means not completely. You may ask someone if he is finished with his project, and the person may respond, “I am partially finished.” That means I haven’t completely finished it. I’m 50 percent or 75 percent finished.

Frank says he wants to make sure that “any new tenants are financially sound.” “To be financially sound” (sound) means to have enough money to, in this case, pay your rent every month. Sonia says, “That’s why we require a rental application with financial details and check their credit history.” A “rental (rental) application” is a piece of paper that you put information on about who you are and how much money you have and what kind of business you want to run in the rented unit.

“Financial details” would refer to your bank accounts or how much money you have, what kind of business you have, and how much money the business is worth. Your “credit (credit) history” is a list of all of the loans and debt that you have. “Debt” (debt) – notice we don’t pronounce the “b” – is money you owe other people. So if you have a credit card, you have “credit card debt.” You have money that you owe the credit card company. Your “credit history” would list all of your credit cards, for example, in addition to any other loans you have.

Frank says, “Will you also draw up a rental agreement?” The phrasal verb “to draw (draw) up” means to write or create a document. Usually we use this phrasal verb when we’re talking about a legal document such as a contract. You may talk about “drawing up a contract” to rent a property. That contract is usually called a “rental agreement.” The word “agreement” is another word for a contract.

Sonia says, “Yes, we handle,” meaning we take care of, “all of the rental details, including the deposit and delivery of keys.” A “deposit” (deposit), sometimes called a “security deposit,” is money that you pay before you rent a home or an apartment or a unit in a commercial building that is kept by the owner in case you do any damage to the building or the apartment.

A “deposit” is money that will be given back to you when you are no longer renting the apartment or the building or the unit. So, in the United States, for example, if you want to rent an apartment, you usually have to give the person or the company you are renting from your first month’s rent, your last month’s rent, and a security deposit. Some apartments will just require the first month’s rent and a security deposit.

How much is the security deposit? Often it’s the same as the amount you pay for one month’s worth of rent. So, if you’re renting a unit for a thousand dollars a month, your security deposit will probably be around a thousand dollars. That’s money that the property management company or the person who is renting you the property will keep until you leave the apartment or leave the unit. Then, if you haven’t damaged anything inside of the unit, you will get that money back.

However, if you did cause any damage, the owner or management company will use that deposit to fix whatever damage you did. In fact, sometimes it’s called a “damage deposit.” The word “damage” (damage) means physical harm that you cause something, such as a hole in the wall or some sort of paint on the floor that shouldn’t be there. Sonia says her property management company takes care of the deposit and the “delivery of keys,” meaning the company will give whoever is renting the apartment the keys to the apartment or the unit. In this case, it’s an office inside of an office building.

Frank asks, “What if tenants have problems?” Sonia says, “We are on call 24/7.” “To be on call” means to be available. “24/7” means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In other words, all the time. Sonia says that they will send out someone from their “maintenance department to deal with,” or take care of, “any problems.” “Maintenance” (maintenance) refers to taking care of something so that it keeps working or fixing something if it’s broken.

Frank says, “That sounds like what I’m looking for. What is your fee structure?” Your “fee” (fee) is the amount of money you pay someone, in this case, to do something. “Fee structure” (structure) refers to a list or a chart of all the different prices that you will have to pay depending on the different services or things you are asking the company to do for you. Sonia says, “Oh, our services are very reasonable,” meaning they don’t cost very much.

Frank says, “When can you start?” Sonia says, “As soon as you sign an agreement with us.” Frank says, “Great. Can you email the agreement to me right now? The building has some stopped-up toilets that need attention ASAP!” Frank is saying that the building that he owns has some “stopped-up toilets” (toilets). A “toilet” is, of course, a place in a bathroom that you use to do what you must do in a bathroom. I think you understand what I mean, and I don’t mean showering.

If a toilet is “stopped-up,” it isn’t flushing properly. The water isn’t going down through the pipes properly. It “isn’t working properly,” we might say. “ASAP” means “as soon as possible.” Frank, in other words, has a problem in the building that he owns, and he wants to get a property management company to go and take care of it right away – ASAP.

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

[start of dialogue]

Sonia: Hello, Fickle Property Management Company.

Frank: Hello, I own an office building on Broadway Boulevard and I’m interested in hiring a property management company.

Sonia: You’ve called the right place. We help you advertise your vacant units, show empty properties, and screen prospective tenants.

Frank: The building is partially occupied right now and I want to be sure that any new tenants are financially sound.

Sonia: That’s why we require a rental application with financial details and check their credit history. We are very thorough.

Frank: Will you also draw up the rental agreement?

Sonia: Yes, we handle all of the rental details, including the deposit and delivery of keys.

Frank: What if tenants have problems?

Sonia: We are on call 24/7 and will send out someone from our maintenance department to deal with any problems.

Frank: This sounds like what I’m looking for. What is your fee structure?

Sonia: Oh, our services are very reasonable.

Frank: When can you start?

Sonia: As soon as you sign an agreement with us.

Frank: Great. Can you email the agreement to me right now? The building has some stopped-up toilets that need attention ASAP!

[end of dialogue]

You can listen to our wonderful scripts 24/7, and we thank our on-call scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, for her wonderful scripts.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. Come back and 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 2016 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
property management company – a company that provides services to property owners who want to rent their building to residents or businesses, including finding new tenants (renters), maintaining the property, and collecting rent payments

* The property management company rejected our application because it said our income was too low.

vacant – empty; without anyone using or living in a place

* This hotel is full, but the one across the street still has some vacant rooms.

to show – to give people a tour of a place or property so that they can decide whether they want to have, buy, or rent it

* We asked the real estate agent to show us all the three-bedroom homes within one mile of the elementary school.

to screen – to determine whether applicants meet particular qualifications, so that only those that meet the qualifications are considered

* The human resources department screens job applicants for the right set of skills and education, and then the hiring manager conducts interviews with the ones who are good candidates.

prospective tenant – someone who may want to rent a particular apartment or home, but has not yet applied or whose application has not yet been processed

* If we lower the rent, it will be easier to find more prospective tenants.

partially occupied – with people living in some, but not all, of the units or apartments in a building

* The university’s dormitories are only partially occupied in the summer, when many students go back home.

financially sound – with enough financial resources to live comfortably, save at least some money, pay one’s expenses, and have little or no debt

* Once we’ve paid off this credit card debt, we’ll feel more financially sound.

rental application – a form that one fills out to be selected as the next person or family to live in a particular home or apartment in exchange for monthly payments

* Please submit your rental application with a copy of your driver’s license and your most recent paystub, as well as the $35 application fee.

credit history – information about how responsibly one has handled debt in the past, including the amount owed, the institutions to whom the money is owed, and a record of how frequently payments are made on time

* According to your credit history, you have paid off your car loan, but you still have almost $8,000 in credit card debt.

to draw up – to draft; to create a document

* The attorney is drawing up a contract for your review.

rental agreement – a legal contract specifying the terms under which someone is allowed to live in a home or apartment or use another type of property in exchange for monthly payments

* The rental agreement states that rent cannot be raised for the first 12 months.

deposit – security deposit; an amount of money paid before renting a home or apartment, held by the property owner to pay for the cost of repairing any damages, but refunded to the tenant if the property is returned in good condition

* Upon move-in, you’ll need to pay a $500 deposit, but it’s fully refundable.

on call 24/7 – available at any time, day or night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

* If you have an after-hours medical emergency, just call this number. One of our doctors is on call 24/7.

maintenance – efforts to keep something in good condition, cleaning and fixing things as needed

* Much of the school’s maintenance budget was spent on fixing the leaking roof.

fee structure – a list or chart indicating how prices are calculated for a particular product or service, showing the cost of each component

* The fee structure for this software includes an upfront cost for installation and integration, a monthly maintenance fee, and a licensing fee based on the number of users.


stopped-up toilet – a toilet (a seat in the bathroom with a hole on top, used to take away human waste) that is not working properly because something has blocked the passage of water

* Plumbers often see stopped-up toilets caused by children trying to flush toys or rolls of toilet paper down the toilet.

ASAP – as soon as possible; very quickly

* Please finish those specification lists and send them to the product manager ASAP.

Comprehension Questions
1. What happens when a company screens prospective tenants?
a) It advertises the vacancy to people who may be interested.
b) It determines whether applicants are qualified to rent the property.
c) It collects security deposits from the people who are moving in.

2. What is a credit history?
a) Information about how someone has used credit in the past.
b) Personal recommendations commenting on the applicant’s character.
c) A history of all the people who have rented a particular property.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to show

The verb “to show,” in this podcast, means to give people a tour of a place or property so that they can decide whether they want to have, buy, or rent it: “I saw an ad for a used car I’d like to buy, so I contacted them to see when they can show it to me.” The phrase “to show off” means to boast, or to do or say things to make other people admire oneself: “It’s great that you speak so many language, but don’t show off like that when you first meet people.” The phrase “to show someone out/in” means to accompany someone as he or she leaves or enters a building or room: “You don’t need to show me out. I can find the exit on my own.” Finally, the phrase “to show up” means to arrive: “What time did he show up for the interview?”

on call

In this podcast, the phrase “on call” means available at any time: “Our technical support team is available from 9:00 to 6:00, but if you have a true emergency, our representatives are on call anytime.” The phrase “to make a good/bad call” means to make a good or bad decision: “Opening that office was a good call. Well done.” The phrase “an easy call” describes a simple decision, or a decision that was easy to make: “We love being parents, so having another baby was an easy call.” The phrase “the last call” describes the final announcement about something: “This is the last call for Train #805 heading north to Seattle.” Finally, the phrase “there’s no call for (something)” means that something is unnecessary or wrong: “I understand you’re upset, but there’s not call for name-calling.”

Culture Note
The Eviction Process

An “eviction” occurs when a renter is forced to leave the home or apartment that he or she had been renting, usually due to a failure to pay the rent “on time” (when it was due; when it was supposed to be paid). The rules “governing” (covering; dealing with) eviction vary by “jurisdiction” (the area with legal authority), such as the city, county, or state.

In general, the eviction process begins when the “landlord” (a property owner who rents out a property) “gives notice” (officially tells the tenant that there is a problem and warns about the negative consequences), usually “citing” (referring to) the tenant’s failure to pay rent or “maintain” (keep in good condition) the property. The “notice” (official notification) clearly states the tenant’s options and provides the “timeframe” (schedule; specific dates) for taking “corrective actions” (actions to solve the problem).

If the tenant does not respond “adequately” (sufficiently; in a satisfactory way), the landlord may need to file a “lawsuit” (a legal trial; a request for a legal decision) to “proceed” (continue) with the eviction process. At this point, the tenant is “served with papers” (officially given legal documents) stating when the tenant must “vacate the premises” (leave the property). The law requires giving the tenant a minimum amount of time to vacate the premises.

If the tenant does not vacate the premises “by” (before) the “specified” (clearly stated) date, the tenant might be “forcibly removed” from the property. Police officers might physically remove the people and their “possessions” (the things that one owns), sometimes simply placing them on the street. Depending on the law, the landlord might be required to “store” (hold for future use) any possessions left on the premises for a certain amount of time before “disposing of it” (selling it or throwing it away).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a