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)
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
LEAKS ALL OVER
I had a water heater installed Nov 6th., It started leaking and the pipes bang when the water shuts off. They do not have anything saying I have this pile of garbage fast forward… I was told ” well I guess you have a free water heater”… fast forward… water leaking out of the cold water tap and leaking out of the bottom. & calls later they agree to send someone, they don’t show up… another call..said someone is coming…still no one. The circle starts again… we don’t have an account for you.. bottom line is it was installed Nov 6th by a shame of a company called Your Electrician.. I asked for something to sign he said ” you will hear from them soon, pay them don’t pay them I don’t care”. WHF really. This is what you get when you buy from Reliance. GO some other place!!!
Emergency calls are NOT treated like an emergency
Having paid for the Heating Protection plan for over a decade, we had hoped that when we called for help because our furnace stopped working, we would have a technician come to the house that day. The earliest they could send someone was in three days! This is JANUARY!! We need heat. Lesson learned…Home Reliance Heating Protection plan is NOT worth the money. We are done with Home Reliance.
Gas leaking at my house and they only can book an appointment to 2 days later
A gas technician from the gas company came into my house attesting there is a gas leak coming from my furnace. I have the heating protection plan ($15 monthly) and when I called reliance about this EMERGENCY they said there was only time available for someone to come 2 days later. After much arguing they said the best they could do is to notify the dispacher team and it would be up to them to assign a technician to come to my home today or tomorrow or not…who knows? The thing is my gas valve and my furnace are off because of the leak, and we are in January in Canada where it is -10 outside. I cannot wait 2 days to get my furnace repaired. This is the first time I ever needed their service, and apparently it will be the last time too.
Replaced Hot Water Heater not working
We live in Brampton and about a month ago we had Reliance come and replace the old tank which was leaking.The new tank worked for about a month and on Saturday it stopped working so we called service and a tech came out and said it needed a new control board, so it was ordered and a tech came to install it but also found that it needed another part, which he didn’t have
We have been without hot water for 6 days and counting so we have been on the phone for hours with other people. No one can resolve this. We asked to replace the tank and no reply. In the meantime We have called enercare and are having the old tank removed and returned to Reliance and are having a new one installed.
Reliance your Customer Care is horrible and if this is the way you treat your customers I hope they all switch to enercare for better service and care. Shame on you to leave us without hot water for days
Reliance Plugged Up our Kitchen Sink and Won’t come back to Fix It!!!
You convinced us months ago to sign up to your monthly plumbing coverage plan. So when our kitchen sink started backing up we called to have it fixed. You sent Kevin out on Tues and he actually ocmpletely blocked up the drain somehow. He left saying he’ll be back the next morning with a power flusher to push the plug through. Never showed up so we called you guys and turns our you can’t find Kevin. Rich came by late afternoon and poured a bottle of Javelin into the sink, which just sat on the plugged up sink not doing anything. Rich said it’s crappy he has to fix what Kevin did but he’ll come back next morning with a snake to fix what Kevin left. Long story short It’s Friday eve and even after repeated calls to Reliance no one has come back again to fix the kitchen sink. WORST SERVICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY EVER. DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO ANY PLAN WITH THEM. LOOKING INTO CANCELLING ALL SERVICES WITH THEM AND SEEING HOW TO UNPLUG SINK BY OURSELVES!
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