One of the most important measures of the investment value of your residential rental property is the tenants you have in it.

Good tenants will take care of your property and provide an ongoing source of income. Bad tenants can stop your cash flow, age your property faster, and cause you to spend more money sooner than later.

Tenant retention is also very important. When you lose a tenant, you lose cash while your property is vacant.

Here are some suggestions for getting good tenants:

1. Use Craig’s List to find renters. A number of landlords that I have spoken to indicated that they obtained great results using CraigsList. When you list the rental property, include house photos and detailed information.

2. Don’t set rents too high. It’s best to keep rents a bit below the market rate, to attract a large pool of renters and find a good tenant.

3. Use a comprehensive rental application. Include an authorization to allow a background check. Check all references. If an application is incomplete, those renters might not be the right tenants for you.

Here are some tips for keeping good tenants:

1. Use a South Carolina approved lease. Ensure that all lease provisions are clearly spelled out and that nothing pertaining to tenant and landlord obligations is questionable. Don’t forget to include the number of people allowed live in the property and pet policy as well.

2. Set a reasonable rent (and negotiate a win-win financial arrangement). If there is something extra that you want the tenants to do, like yard maintenance – and they are willing and able to do it – consider reducing the rent accordingly.

3. Stay on top of the maintenance. All properties will experience wear and tear. If the tenant informs you of a problem, don’t delay in responding. When renters see that repairs are completed in a timely manner, they will be more likely to take better care of your property.

4. Be a good landlord. It is your responsibility to provide safe and well-maintained housing to your tenant. It’s the right thing to, you’ll make more money in the long run, and you will retain good tenants.

Larry Stoller is a broker and Realtor with Real Estate Five of the Lowcountry.,,