Renting a water heater or other home appliance from Reliance is similar to buying an extended warranty as it works as form of insurance. You pay more for the product upfront and get support should anything go wrong. However, it is a great moneymaker for providers and a bad deal for the majority of their customers and not a common practice in Canada outside of Ontario. Purchasing your own unit can result in substantial savings over time, according to the Competition Bureau.
- No large up-front cost
- Low monthly payments
- They handle service and repairs
- High cancellation fees
- Many complaints about their maintenance and repair services
- No coverage for damage caused by leaking tanks
About Reliance Home Comfort
Reliance Home Comfort installs, rents and services water heaters, furnaces and air conditioners to 1.7 million Canadian households primarily in Ontario, but also in western Canada.
The company was started in 1999 as the water heater rental division of Union Gas (now Enbridge), which had a monopoly over a large portion of Ontario. The company worked with home builders to pre-install gas-powered water heaters to increase usage and reliance on Natural Gas as a source of fuel.
Due to regulatory changes, the unregulated water heater rental business was split off as Union Energy in 1999 and acquired by Epcor for $160 million in 2001, spun off as UE Waterheater Income Fund in 2003 and purchased by Alinda Capital Partners for $1.74 billion in 2007 and purchased by CK group for $2.8 billion in 2017.
Who owns Reliance Home Comfort?
Reliance Home Comfort is owned by Hong Kong-based CK Asset Holdings Ltd. (75%) and Cheung Kong (CK) Infrastructure Holdings (25%) owned by Chinese-Canadian businessman Victor Li, and his father Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest person and 30th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $35.4 billion. They acquired the company from US private equity fund Alinda Capital Partners for $2.82 billion in 2017.
How much does it cost to rent a water heater from Reliance?
Ontario residents can rent a hot water tank from Reliance Home Comfort for $20 to $35 per month depending on the size of the tank. Tankless water heater rentals are commonly found in new builds and cost $35 to $50 per month.
In addition, the agreements stipulate that these charges are increased every year by the greater of 3.5% and Ontario CPI.
These rental agreements continue until the “end of the useful life” of the unit, which is from 10 to 20 years and an average of 16 years. At $35 per month, payments made during the agreement would add up to $4200 to $8400 – 3 to 6 times the installation cost of the tank (about $1500).
Further reading: Is renting a water heater worth it?
Reliance Home Comfort contract example
For installs made before November 5, 2014, the following agreement applies:
You will not be able to terminate this agreement until you have rented the water heater for at least a period of 84 months following the commencement of your rental agreement (the “Minimum Rental Term”), unless you buy the water heater from us in accordance with this agreement.
If the water heater has reached the end of its useful life and we are not installing a replacement, you shall at such time own the unit.
Example buyout schedule
I was not able to find a copy on their website, but I found a few examples online:
|Age (Years)||Buyout price|
How to cancel a Reliance Home Comfort water heater contract?
Agreements started in 2009
A consumer was recently quoted:
- $150 + HST – Drain, disconnect and removal from the home
- $150 + HST – Pickup already drained and disconnected
- $150 + HST – Account Closure Fee
- $100.00 – Dropped off to our nearest drop off location.
An appointment is not necessary, but the drop off hours were limited to: Mon, Wed, Thurs from 8am to 12pm
Agreements started after Nov. 5, 2014
For agreements started after November 5, 2014 and until November 5, 2024, the 2014 Competition Tribunal orders to Reliance Home Comfort applies, which state:
- Reliance shall permit a Customer or its Agent to terminate a Rental Agreement at any time by submitting a Notification of Termination by telephone, facsimile, e-mail or webform.
Reliance shall permit a Customer or its Agent to:
- drain, disconnect, remove and/or return to Reliance the water heater that is the subject of the Rental Agreement; or
- request that Reliance drain, disconnect, remove and/or pick up at the Installed Address the water heater that is the subject of the Rental Agreement
Other than any outstanding rental payments and interest charges owed, Reliance may not charge any Exit Charges other than a:
- Maximum termination charge of $200 (unit is less than 1 year old) and a maximum of $40 (unit is more than 1 year old and less than 10 years old).
- Maximum pick-up charge (not including draining or disconnection) of $65 in respect of a natural gas, a maximum of $125 for an electric.
- Maximum pick-up charge (including draining and disconnection) of $125.
- Any cost to repair damage to Reliance units only when the following two conditions are met:
- the damaged unit is less than seven (7) years old; and
- the damage was caused by a Person other than Reliance, the proof of any such damage being caused by a Person other than Reliance resting with Reliance.
- Purchase price voluntarily agreed to by a Customer to purchase the unit outright. (optional)
How some Enercare customers have saved money
NOTE: May not work with Reliance
As reported by Mark Wessel in the Toronto Sun, after several drawn out calls lasting over 40 minutes each time with Enercare, is that if you push hard enough, they’ll put you through to a supervisor who with prodding, will give you a 20% discount off the buyout price. Alternatively, they offered 15 months in credits – equivalent in value to over $500 that was paid directly to our Enbridge account in order to continue renting for another 15 months.
You’ll have to call in and complain, ask to cancel/buyout the unit. Then maybe tell them you’ll escalate the issue to their executives, consumer protection and go to social media, etc. They’ll offer you 3 months free. Say no. They’ll offer 6 months. Say no again. They’ll offer 12 months. Take that. Call back in 12 months and repeat.
You’ll still have a contract, but after the period of free rental credits ends, the buyout price would be lower than before as the unit would be more than a year older and you’ve saved hundreds of dollars in the meantime.
They really, really don’t want you out of your contract.
Regulatory actions against Reliance Home Comfort
Competition Bureau makes National Home Services (acquired by Reliance on same day) pay $7 million for misleading door-to-door sales
After Reliance was found to be using using anti-competitive processes that made it difficult and frustrating to return or cancel their water heater rental, the Competition Bureau issued a consent order ordering Reliance pay a penalty of $5 million and modify its residential rental agreement termination and water heater return policies to:
- Not require customers to obtain an authorization number before returning their unit
- Allow a new supplier to terminate a customer’s account on their behalf
- Not unreasonably restricting where and when a unit can be returned
- Not charging unwarranted fees to switch providers or terminate contracts
- Open new return depots
Rating would be lower if I could
Bought a place with a rental for water heater and never been billed until a year and a half later… Been asking for an invoice for last 6months for electrical that was done never to receive an invoice for it yet but already paid for it.
Their billing department always says it’s automated we don’t know when you get your bill but just wait next month (until the next forever or year and a half).
Asked about a pay out water heater rental that was put in back in 2015 and was told I would need to pay 1300+tax for 60gallon electric water heater…
I’ll be ripping it out and buying a brand new one for cheaper when I get a chance.
Thanks reliance for charging me for a year and a half not able to find my bill cause I would have asked for a pay out or removed the machine myself when I purchased the building.
Horrible service even more horrible organization and no one knows a fucking thing and passes it on to the next person.
Also the electrical invoice they came in with two people and never even fixed the issue and couldn’t find the issue. I did it myself it was just a loose wire in one of the receptacles. Just thought if I got an electrician they be able to fix it quicker.
Horrible all around
I deem this to be a scam as we are seniors, 84 and 83
They are trying to charge us for a Water Heater that we bought new in 2019 as we had to have our chimney taken down and had to buy one to be vented out thru the walls at a cost of around $3800 dollars. It was removed when our roof was replaced in August 2019. Did not buy from Reliance. We never had a rental from them.
letting the cat out of the bag
I was about to pay my bill for $123 which Reliance charges me every three months when I decided to call them and ask what it would cost me to buy my aging water heater. I was told $281 plus tax. When I said I wanted to buy it and pay everything off including my outstanding bill the lady I was speaking to let it slip that the $123 I owed was for the upcoming three months. In other words, for services not yet rendered. She then transferred me to billing.
When I told the guy at billing I wanted to buy out my water heater he said, ‘No, problem, it is $281 plus tax added to your outstanding balance of $123.’ I then told him that the lady who transferred me told me that the $123 was for services not yet rendered. He went to speak to his supervisor. When he came back he tried again to add the two sums together. I protested, reminding him the bill for $123 was a forward payment, but whatever days I had already used could be pro-rated. He went back to his supervisor again. He came back with a pro-rated sum saving me about $80. I was assured that the total amount I was paying them, which was about $365, would be the final payment. That was on Wed, August 16, 2023. Three days later I got another bill from Reliance, this time for $13.50. I guess I will call them on Monday to find out why.
I’m wondering if the lady who reminded me that my outstanding balance was paid at the beginning of each three month period, not the end, got a stern reminder that’s not how we do business here. You don’t let the cat out of the bag. And did the guy I first spoke to at billing know it didn’t make sense to add the $123 to the buyout? It would be hard to believe he didn’t.
Reliance is currently controlled by the family of a Hong Kong-based Chinese-Canadian businessman through two of their holding companies. Do they know this is happening?
By the way, if you have an older water heater, it is probably best to buy it out.
Absolutely the worst customer service we have ever received!!
We have had nothing but problems with this company from the start. I will point form, as there have been so many issues.
-messed up installation date.
-Requested a call back, didn’t return my call.
-During installation while removing old furnace and hot water tank, they damage walls paint and put a huge dent in or metal door.
-Brand new tank wouldn’t even last 5 minutes before it was cold.
When I called they told me to turn the heat up. Called back as this didn’t work.
Took them over a week to send someone out. Found out they installed a cracked tank.
-Then the billing errors started and 3 years later they finally figured it out.
-They also left all the garbage in the spare room and it took them almost 3 weeks to come get it
-Then summer comes and our air condition wouldn’t work. And it was because they didn’t hook it up.
-On Thursday (4 days ago) our hot water tank broke.This tank is just over 2 years old and they only warranty them for 1 year!
– Through all of these issues I have constantly asked them to have a manager or hire up call me. Not once has anyone retuned my call.
We called another company and had a new hat water tank installed in less than 24 hours! Not only that this tanks has a 9 year warranty. Thanks Home Depot for caring about your customers.
The communication between departments is non existent. And it is blatantly obvious that once they have your money they could care less about the customer.
Charging a cancel fee at end-of-contract
I had the misfortune when I bought my home in 2016 to assume an existing Reliance contract for a hot water, furnace, and ac unit.
The install tag on the furnace stated an exact date from springtime of 2015. Although I’ve never received a copy of the agreement, I knew it was supposed to be 7 years, so I always planned to get the rental equipment off my premises before the same date would lapse in 2022. This took weeks of calling and talking to multiple reps in India. Never would I ever receive an email with a date of removal. To get things moving, I finally sent 2 registered letters to different corporate locations of theirs in Brampton, and a tech just randomly shows up 3 days later.
Just some back story first on the AC unit — stolen from the back yard 2 years ago… and had to pay them off for full value of unit as if new. That. left me with only a furnace and water heater rental.
Flash forward to the furnace and water heater removal…
Furnace removal was free, as discussed with the multiple CSRs, but the water tank was supposed to have a removal fee of 80 dollars. However, it had been disconnected, drained, and already replaced 2-3 months prior because it died. Since it was good to go and I had already been paying fees for it while broken, the rep told me not to worry about it and took it with the furnace for free. Problem solved! All equipment was off my property before auto-renew could happen.
A day or two before the tech showed, Reliance sends a new bill for the next billing cycle. I ignored it.
Several weeks go by, and I find out Reliance has auto-billed me hundreds of dollars. What the hell? After multiple calls, they start telling me “cancellation fee”. I say when was I ever informed of this, and how can you charge a cancel fee when I am simply NOT renewing an already-fulfilled contract? No answer. Multiple requests for statements and contracts would be promised and then never sent. They shale you down, but have 0 accountability.
Fast forward 1 year later, having talked to at least 2 reps in North America who say I shouldn’t receive further billing, and yet I get multiple weekly threats from this company offers to take me to collections. Worst experience ever. I am now trying to contact the president of the company in order to officially tell them directly to take a hike. This company never made good to send me an actual bill or contract agreement showing why I need to pay these extra fees. If they do not go away, legal action will be filed. They are bullies and harassers with no business ethics.
Leave a review or submit a complaint
If you have experience with Reliance Home Comfort, we’re interested to know your thoughts. How long have you been with them and what do you think about their service, contracts and value? Let us know by leaving a review and sharing your experience below!