November 29, 2023

What is an RBC and Why Should I use one?

RBC is an acronym for a Read, Bill, Collect company and derived from the process of the third party reading the meters, billing the tenants, and collecting the payments; though in practice, the property may decide to collect the payments and the RBC may offer additional services.

Other common names for an RBC include: Utility Billing Company, Third-Party Utility Billing, or Meter Reading Company. The function of these companies is to provide utility billing services to owners and property managers of multi-family buildings and apartment complexes. They often handle the entire process of paying utility bills, reading meters, generating invoices, collecting payments, and reimbursing the property.

Typical Functions of an RBC:

Here’s a breakdown of the typical functions of such companies:

  1. Read: These companies may handle the reading of utility meters, such as those for water, gas, or electricity. They could use various methods, including manual readings or automated systems.
  1. Bill: After obtaining meter readings, the company generates utility bills for each customer or tenant. The bills reflect the amount of utility consumption during a specific billing period.
  1. Collect: The company is responsible for collecting payments from customers based on the generated bills. This can involve various payment methods, such as online payments, checks, or other accepted forms of payment.

Why Use an RBC:

Reasons why property owners or managers might choose to use a an RBC include:

  • Efficiency: Outsourcing these tasks to a specialized company can be more efficient than managing them in-house, especially for larger properties or property management companies with multiple locations.
  • Accuracy: Professional utility billing companies often have systems in place to ensure accurate meter readings and billing, reducing the likelihood of errors.
  • Time and Resource Savings: Property owners or managers can save time and resources by outsourcing meter reading, billing, and collection tasks, allowing them to focus on other aspects of property management.
  • Compliance: Utility billing companies may have expertise in navigating regulatory requirements related to billing and collection practices, helping property owners stay compliant with relevant laws.

What to Look for When Choosing an RBC:

Here is a list of things to consider when choosing an RBC:

  • Look for an RBC that asks good questions to ensure they are offering you a tailored solution that solves your problems and alleviates your pinch points.
  • Look for an RBC with a reliable onboarding process (and if you are switching from one RBC to another, make sure they can offer a smooth transition with no disruption to resident invoicing during the process).
  • Look for an RBC that will be responsive to you and your staff. Ask if you will have a dedicated representative, if they use help tickets, what their average response time is, and how they will keep you updated on the status of your question/issue.
  • Look for an RBC that will be responsive to your residents so they can take all the resident questions (and complaints) off your plate. Ask what their average response time is for answering resident emails and voicemails and if their contact center has convenient options for your residents, like a call-back feature or the ability to pay over the phone 24/7.
  • If you have a submetering system, look for an RBC with the ability and willingness to offer maintenance to the system and who will take initiative to point out and help resolve meter issues and running toilets.
  • Look for an RBC that can integrate with your property management software and who is willing to do the collections or allow you to do the collections as desired. Most RBC’s have the ability to interface with popular property management softwares which allows them to pull the move-ins you enter in your system directly into theirs to avoid double entry for your property managers. An interface will also enable them to push the utility charges they generate directly to your resident ledgers if the property wants to collect the utility payments along with the rent.
  • If you are looking for additional services such as BillPay, VCR, or Leak Detection, be sure to ask about pricing and benefits of those services.


Before deciding to use an RBC or utility billing company, it’s important to research and choose a reputable company. Ensure that the company’s practices align with local regulations and that they have a track record of accuracy and reliability. You want to choose a company that asks good questions, gives you options, and can onboard your properties smoothly. Finally, weigh the costs/benefits of outsourcing these tasks versus keeping them in-house and make the decision that’s right for your property.