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
They are crooks
Renting tank was $16.80 monthly. When you cancel. there was a small fee to pick up. But you are charged a couple months after removed.
My final bill was $ 118.65.
NO HEAT FOR 3 DAYS !! Cold DAYS
Could not fix my furnace for 3 days on the 3rd day one of the technician arrived at 8am morning and fixed the problem in 5minutes
My house had no heat for 3days Wednesday February 23 Thursday Feb 24, Friday Feb 25.
Wednesday February 23 I called them at 7PM requesting that they attend to the problem as soon as possible considering its winter and its very cold without an operating furnace and they still told me I had to wait for the technician tomorrow from 7 to 11.. My problem was fixed Friday Feb 25
They did not care about the cold!!! the technicians explained that the one part needed to be repaired, but the technician that fix the problem in 5 minutes 2days later did not see anything broken or that needed it to change. The good technician that was able to helped me his name is Sabah A he was a very kind person able to help me after long days waiting for help. Pls AVOID THIS COMPANY.
They are greedy crooks.
I signed a contract with National Home Service specifically to get away from Reliance. Then low and behold Reliance weasels their way back into our lives. I just received my new rental increase cus, you know we don’t have enough going on with covid and losing money from lockdowns, oh no good ole’ Reliance loves to kick you in the head when you’re down. I despise this company with every fibre of my being. I’ve called a few times about buying out my equipment, but those clowns can never get back to you or give an amount. I have only let one of their techs in my house once during the almost 10 years that their furnace has been here. I don’t like the way they run their business and how they treat customers. I’ve lost my mind on their employees numerous times when they try to act stupid with a question i want answered or if they call to offer some other crap i don’t want. I tell them everyday the i loath their company and will not even let them in my house to insist the furnace i unfortunately have with them.
Ignorant technician whom couldn’t fix same furnacep problem happened for the third time within couple of month
I wish I can rate them a ZERO star , struggling
With my house furnace within the last couple
Of month same problem keeps happening with
Absolutely no success to get it fixed by the technician!! Called to book an appointment the technician didn’t show up he called few hours later and canceled the visit called to reschedule as the technician advised I was told no appointment is available and I have to wait another 2 days to have a technician available!!!
My house had no heat for couple of days but they don’t care !??? AVOID THiS COMPANY
Dishonest sales pitch
We contacted Reliance last year with the intention to upgrade our furnace & water heater .
The water heater we had already been renting from Reliance , the furnace had been bought from another company . A salesman came to our home & after being educated about the various products , making a decision about our purchases , we were told that because we were purchasing our furnace outright & upgrading the water heater , which we were encouraged to rent , instead of purchasing outright , we would be receiving a $ 700 gift card . We didn’t ask for this , had no idea about this offer until it was offered to us by the salesman . The salesman who came to our home was pleasant , knowledgeable , friendly & promised that after the equipment were installed , he would’ve come by the day after to do an inspection . Typical salesman , he never came as promised , we made several phone calls to him , each one resulting in him offering a new excuse for him not being able to come . Eventually he did turn up , wow ! , it was as though it was a different person , having made his sale , we had signed on the dotted line , he didn’t care one hoot anymore about us . Of course , the dishonest statement made about the gift card , which to date we’ve never received . We made several cells to Reliance , and were convinced that we must have been “ the joke “ of the company . Everyone we spoke with, so called supervisors included , we’re going “ to look into it “, guess no one saw anything . Whether or not the salesman had made this offer , we were going to be purchasing the new equipment . Having made this offer , it’s only common decently & honestly on Reliance’s part to deliver , it’s not the $ 700 gift card , it’s the principle of the matter . I’ve just read online , where Reliance encouraged a customer to rent their water heater , only to discover that there was a lien on his home for this water heater .. After reading this & experienced such a high level of dishonesty by them, we will have to check , so should everyone else renting equipment from them, to see if we are in the same situation .Shame on Reliance !!! We are so sick & disgusted with the shabby treatment meted out to us by these rich ,multimillion corporations ., who continuously prey on the innocent consumers .
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!