In selecting your recruiter, do your due diligence now

It may be the last thing you consider when looking for a member of staff. You need someone quickly, the outgoing property manager is on a month’s notice, you hope you find the right PM for your block management firm and that they’ll stay. For a long time.

Whether you are an expanding firm of managing agents and need more staff or you’re on the hunt for a replacement for a tricky portfolio, more than ever good property managers are few and far between. And too many think the grass is greener rather than rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in. So in this current climate of PMs with itchy feet and real talent increasingly hard to find, checking the recruiter’s terms and conditions carefully is essential. After all, you are signing a contract so the last thing needs to be the first thing.

We talk regularly to directors and heads of property management who tend to use a variety of recruiters, casting a net wide in the hope of a prize catch. Sometimes that strategy can work but without a doubt it increases the chances of signing up to onerous terms.


Working closely with one recruiter can pay dividends. They get to know your firm very well, you keep them up to date with changes to the structure of your company, new instructions, new offices. In return for that loyalty and open lines of communication, they’ll let you know first when a truly talented member of on-site or office based staff comes along and so you get first dibs.

Part of a recruiter’s role is to vet the candidates put forward and do their best to ensure a match. If a recruiter is working closely with you, the chances are the match will be better and your ratio of gems to duds will improve. You and your recruiter form a team, a bond, and you want the best for the other.

That’s not to say there won’t be the odd mismatch… so that’s when the terms and conditions are referred to and if you have a close working relationship with the recruiter, perhaps you will have taken the time to agree terms that both parties are comfortable with. Look at it from the recruiter’s point of view: He/she would like the match to be perfect so the fee is fully deserved and the employer goes back to the recruiter time after time.

If you use multiple recruiters, a recent recruit isn’t working out and sadly you have to let someone go within their probationary period, which of the recruiters you use will do the right thing and which recruiters will dig their heels in and merely point at the terms and conditions you signed or you were never even given to sign?

These are some of the main clauses that you should look at carefully when agreeing terms with your chosen recruiter:

  • Rebate period – How long does it last and are there any admin fees deductible prior to receiving what you are due?
  • Exclusivity – In the event of an applicant not working out, are you bound to accept a replacement from the same recruiter or can you opt for your refund and use others who may be better placed to supply you?
  • Options – Do you have the choice between a free replacement and a refund, or are you bound by whichever the recruiter elects?
  • Caveats – Are there any clauses favouring the recruiter in the event a refund is due, such as waiting for unreasonable time periods (e.g. you must wait x months before receiving £y) or excessive deductions from the refund?
  • Invoice payment terms – Are there unreasonably short invoice payment terms where payment outside of this (short) period prejudices your potential claim against the recruiter down the line in terms of recruiting a replacement or being reimbursed?

At BBL, we take the time to go through our terms and conditions with our clients, face to face whenever possible. Whilst we believe our terms and conditions to be one of the fairest in the market to the managing agent, we rarely turn down a client’s request to do some bespoke amendments. After all, we are confident in our ability to match-make.

Remember: the last thing should be the first thing.

Greg Coyle, Director, BBL Property

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