It is always better to have a real estate agent and it shouldn't cost you anything. You will still have to pay typically $50 per application for a credit/background check. If you need any assistance of have any questions please feel free to contact me.
It is always best to have a professional on your side in whatever matter you undertake. If you are not a mechanic you wouldn't want to work on your own car, and there's the old addage that goes something like: "one who serves as one's own attorney has a fool for a client". So the short answer is an emphatic yes! You should have a professional help you find a home to rent. I mean, who turns down free help? A real estate agent that works rentals on a daily basis knows the ins an outs of the rental market and the procedures relating to it. That way, nothing comes as a surprise, you save time and money, you have access to the homes that meet your stated, required criteria and it's all for free! The landlord pays the agent, in most cases, not you.
Now, there is a catch...Please determine the level of your earnestness in looking to rent. If you are only considering renting and not seriously in need, most agents will gladly advise you of the procedures you will need to follow during a phone conversation. Then, when the time comes to be seriously looking, you will call and hire an agent.