When the landlord is using an agent, YOUR DEPOSIT becomes his commission. Many people here struggle to manage their finances and cash flow, so since they have given your deposit away from the first moment, you are even less likely to get it back when using an agent ...in my opinion. The agent does not and will not HOLD it for you and is just lying if they tell you that. Usually, the reason you don't get the deposit back is because people don't have it to give back. So they make up any kind of BS they can to blame it on you even if you have been perfect. This has been my experience anyway. Finding a landlord who has money and cash on hand would be important in this case, for me. How to tell, I don't know. Thai Chinese people maybe? Or just consider it a cost of rent, and don't move very often? I moved often when I was first here and that cost me a lot of money and I did not enjoy it. Negotiate rent as if you will lose that money and if you get it back consider it a gift. Don't depend on them to pay for ANY SINGLE THING after you have paid them your money, especially if you prepay your rent ...I prepaid a year's rent once, and two months security deposit, to a very wealthy family, and that house is a hotel now, and was a hotel before I rented it. They did not do ONE THING they promised during the course of the contract, no services happened, no utilities that were included, like internet was paid, no gardener, no f'ing nothing ever happened, and then they kept the deposit also, and the excuse they gave me was because the water drainage pipe from the roof, did damage to the garden??? WHAT?? The water pipe that they own and installed and that deposited water onto gravel on the driveway ...somehow that is my fault?? They can't even come up with a good excuse .. and that is worth two months rent for a very expensive house? And they complained like little babies when I sued them HOW DARE I, what kind of crazy person was I??? Nothing like that ever happened to them before??? You must understand Thai people, they just have to come up with any kind of stupid excuse to keep your money, and to be polite, you must let them. One friend of theirs tried to tell me one night that she was having trouble with her gay lover and I should try to understand and let her keep the money ..what is wrong with me??? I don't know, her parents are millionaires, and she doesn't work and her kids go to international school here and I should donate money to her for the hell of it!! You never know here, be careful ...agents are the worst, don't think that is protection. There is no protection here. Come to grips with that number 1.