Rentec Direct property management software has support to automate your interaction with utility billing service providers such as ista. The process is a 2-step process and can be done either by the property management staff or the billing service company if you provide them a login to your software.
Step 1 – Provide your billing service provider with a file of your tenant data.
- Go to Settings, Utilities, and choose ‘Download Utility Billing Data’
- Configure your export with the following 3 options:
Output Format: Choose your billing vendor. We currently already support ‘ista’; however, if you have an alternate vendor, please let us know and we would be happy to work with them also.
Properties to include: Select which properties you wish to export tenant data for. Any properties the billing service vendor bills on your behalf should be selected.
Days after move-out to bill: All tenants (except deleted tenants) will show on the report. To tell the billing service vendor to not bill expired tenants that have moved out X days ago, specify a value here for how many days. For instance, if left at the default of 30 day, any tenants who moved out greater than 30 days ago would not be billed.
- Choose ‘Download Report’ and save the report to a location on your computer. You can then provide this file to your billing service vendor.
Step 2 – Import new utility billing charges into the system.
- Your utility billing service provider will provide you a file which includes all the utility charges for your tenants. To import this file, go to Settings, Utilities, and choose ‘Import Tenant Charges’.
- Like before, choose the import format, and select the file from your computer, then click ‘Upload File’.
- You will be presented with a summary of the charges to be placed within the system. You will see the column number, the tenant name, description, and amount of the charge. An automated process within Rentec will review the data and highlight any invalid entries in red, and any suspect entries in blue. Carefully review all fields but pay special attention to any items in red or blue. Red items will not be imported since they contain a critical error. Blue items will import.
- Once you have reviewed the data, either click ‘Go Back’ to choose a new file, or ‘Import Charges’ to proceed. Once you choose Import Charges, all charges will be automatically applied to the tenants within the system as of the dates specified within the import file.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I edit the import file? The file provided by ista or other billing service provider is going to be in a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file. These files can be opened by MS Excel, or any text editor. We recommend only viewing the contents in Excel and not editing as Excel will often modify the data unintentionally, such as reformatting dates and amounts. The best way to edit the data if it needs to be changed prior to import is to use notepad or other text editor. Save the file, and re-try the import.
- How do I provide my billing vendor a login so they can do the process on our behalf? Go to Settings, Manage User Accounts and choose ‘Add new user’ and enter a username and password for them to connect with. Add the user then find the user in the user list and click on the permissions link to edit the permissions. Make sure the following items are marked Yes. ‘Allow access to Utilities: Download Utility Billing Data’ and ‘Allow access to Utilities: Import Tenant Charges’. If you are limiting access to only certain property data for this user you can do that here as well.
- Can I do a sample import to get used to the process? We don’t have a way to do a sample import; however, you can do a limited import so it is easy to back-out if there is a problem. Process step 1 normally, and in step 2, edit the import file with a text editor such as notepad and delete all but perhaps the top two or three lines. Proceed with the import and you can then view the tenants who got charges to verify they are accurate. If there is any problem, just void out the transactions you imported. Also, a summary screen showing you everything that will happen always displays prior to any charges being placed into the system, so you can view what will happen prior to it happening at this screen to help eliminate any errors.
- I don’t use a meter reading service. I would like to automatically import charges from my own meters into Rentec using this method. Is it possible? Yes, it certainly is. Download this sample file, remove the sample data and populate it with your charges. Then save the file as a CSV (Comma Separated File) file, and import using the same method described above.