Into days "challenging" climates just about all owners will run a credit, criminal and employment background checks on prospective tenants.
Yes Craigs list is filled with scammers. If the offer is too good to be true, be carful. Also if the ad says for everyone to meet in this house driveway, to fill in this rental application and give us a check, or go to this web site fill in your rental application and deposit, most likely it is a scam too.
So using rental agency or a Realtor is really the safest choice for "legitimate" rentals
You can also drive through communities and look for rental signs. Some will be from Realtors, but others (look for signs you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot) will be for rent by the owner.
Also, look in your local supermarket and other places where there are bulletin boards. Lots of owners will put up "For Rent" flyers there.
There are plenty of other ways, too. But those should do for starters.
Hope that helps.
Have you considered hiring a Real Estate Agent for Assistance? If not, you may call at anytime 919-601-4943 or e-mail me at FallB@hpw.com. I have the resources, knowledge, and know now in meeting your real estate needs and wants. Thanks for the opportunity in advance.
Then, there are others in North Raleigh as well. Some homeowners cannot afford to pay a property manager, thus they handle the property themselves. But there's no one source to direct you to. Are you looking for a single person or a family? On or off local transportation? For how long?