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
Don’t expect them to live up to their “Service as soon as same day inc. weekends & holidays” as their bill statement says
Water heater quit Sunday. Phoned 10 am Sunday – said there was appt. available Tuesday 7 – 11 am. Asked if there was anything sooner, she put me on hold, then said she had permission to send someone today and for me to wait for the service tech’s call. After waiting, at 2:30, I phoned back – got a different person who said there was NO order for service that day & that my appt. was for Tuesday 7 – 11 am and to wait for the tech’s call (she explained it would come up as a blocked number). Cancelled by winter tire install for that day, and I told her I had to leave for work at 1 so that should work. Tuesday 11:15 phoned again as tech was a no show. Got a different person who said the tech has me on the schedule. I explained I had to work at 1, but my husband would be here at 3:30. On hold again, said he contacted the tech to let them know there would be no one here from 1 – 3:30. My husband called me at work at 5:00 pm – surprise – tech a no show. After 2 days waiting & still no hot water I was not in the best of moods when I called them. They told me the tech phoned at 2:37 but no one answered. She kept talking over top of me when I was trying to explain all the arrangements I had made earlier, but she kept saying I should have been home when the tech called. I said my appt was for 7 – 11 & I was there waiting. Then I was put on hold again, after 5 minutes I hung up. She phoned my husband back, the next date that could be arranged was Friday, so one of us has to take the day off work to get this repair done. Checked the phone when I got home – there was NO call from a blocked number. By Friday, (that’s if the tech shows) we will be 6 days without hot water, & 3 days of waiting around for service that was not going to show up in the first place. If you enjoy wasting your time & being blatantly lied to – “call on reliance”!!
Worst service ever
Have had no hot water for four days as of tomorrow, the customer service is robotic, nothing personal about them given certain circumstances.
I will be cancelling my rental .
Electrical Service Contract a “BIG JOKE”
I give RELIANCE a Less than 0 rating. Placed a service call to have some wiring done at the house. Guy shows up and stews for a while then leaves saying he has to go get some tools and equipment and never came back. I called the next day to see what was going on and they said my service ticket was closed. The work was complete. The guy never did a thing. I’ve called approx. 7 times now and they keep rescheduling and now putting me off again until the end of December. I have paid into this electrical service program since the beginning and would like to get a refund right back to the beginning. This is the 1st time I have ever used them and I tell you the service sucks big time. Cheaper to hire an electrical guy than what I pay into this program. Like I said…… Electrical Package is a big JOKE!!!! Very disappointed in this company and the service guys. How can you close a ticket without completing the work and lie about a job you never did. The worst thing was that I had to call to find out what was going on. Never once had a return call to update me on the progress or reason for NOT doing the job. POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
Would never deal with the again
Closed my account in late July and took 6 phones calls and 4 months for them to understand was no longer going to pay their protection plan charges on an account that was closed. When they finally understood all of a sudden they wanted $65 to close an account I paid to open and $40 to pickup waterheater that was theirs. Nothing but a money grab. Go deal with anyone else. Rated them 1 star only because I couldn’t rate them 0 syars
Won’t let you cancel the System Maintenance Plan
Been a long time user of Reliance for over 10 years, all good until you tried to cancel the System Maintenance Plan. I had made over 5 calls in the past 3 months to cancel. Every time the agent promised the plan had been cancelled but still got billed and funds withdrawn from my bank. Think twice before committing on any of their plans offered. This issue has not been resolved. I will make another call again.
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!