Some Estate Agents double up as Letting Agencies too but there are also Letting Agencies that operate as nothing more. Like the Real Estate agents, the letting agencies of Bangkok and Thailand, do not focus too much on the lower priced dwellings due to the smaller commissions.
A lot of people stay clear of these agencies as they think the service will cost them more in the long run. This can actually be a bit of a misconception as their cut, commission, call it what you will, is not simply added to your monthly rent. Although they do make commission on their service, it's quite often at the expense of the landlords as opposed to the tenants. Let me explain further.
Often, a private owner, especially an inexperienced one, will attempt to rent out his property using his own resources in order to save on agency fees. He is quite often over ambitious with his expectations for rent. After a few months without any luck he reluctantly seeks out the services of a letting agency to see if they can do any better. Here, they often inform him that to make his property desirable, he needs to spend a few thousand Baht on a bit of fresh paint, wash away the mildew from the bathroom, get rid of any tacky or broken furniture, fix the broken window, and sling a bit of bleach in the toilet prior showing people around etc.
They may also inform him that he's asking well over the top for this property type. The greedy landlord may point out that he can not afford to let it go any cheaper. The agent may reply to this by highlighting the amount of months his vacant property has already lost him by sitting empty, and if he does not do something soon, it could remain in this unoccupied state indefinitely.
A plan is then drawn up, the agent takes over the management of his apartment, and the property soon reappears back on the market cleaner, smarter and cheaper than before.
As with the Real Estate Agencies, there are a minority of bad Letting Agencies among the good, and it's always advisable to be mindful of this. Apart from personal recommendations there are no easy answers.
To summarize then, a letting agency acts on behalf of landlords, not tenants. In most cases they are paid by the landlord. There are various different types of letting agencies too. Some just find tenants for properties (sometimes referred to as accommodation agencies). Others manage properties on behalf of landlords and the tenants may never have any direct contact with the landlord.
First tip: When renting a private home whether it's through an Estate Agent, a Letting Agency, or a private owner, never be afraid to negotiate the price. Be prepared to walk away and you could have surprised at the discounts available.
Second tip: If you definitely want the viewed property and you're OK with the asking price generally, do not push …