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
my furnace not working heater system
I called November 21, 2021 the Reliance office regarding my problem, first of all I’m paying system protection plan for almost 3 years and I don’t even use the protection plan, November 22, 2021, the technician came to our house and he said I need to replace the furnace and he told me his friend will call me once he left. And I called the office regarding the result and they scheduled at 12 pm on November 23 to send somebody to check my furnace to replace a new one. And after I talk to the office and the friend of the technician he called me from his cellphone and he wanted to schedule himself at 11 am because I told him that the office they will send somebody and he wants to scedule himself at 11 am before the schedule 12 pm from the office will come and I’m waiting at 12 pm nobody came from the office and I called the office at 12:40 pm to follow up the 12 pm schedule and after 15 minutes the person who called me the other day is the one who showed up and he said that he is the one they send to me but it was already at 1 pm , its just a coincidence or planted to cancel the 12 pm schedule so that he will be the one to come? and he offered me a higher price. I don’t understand their system if there is something fishy to other employee. I just waste my money for almost 3 years and they said I need to replace. Now, I decide to purchase to other company which I got a good deal. Even cancelling my protection plan they gave me a hard time. You can check my account that I’m paying my protection plan for almost or over 3 years but first time to use my protection plan he said I need a new one to replace Instead , the technician called his friend which is also an employee of Reliance to offer me a new furnace which is very expensive. I lost my trust. I am a long time costumer because I have a water heater rental in your office.I can’t believe that somebody called outside the office. I have a phobia to trust to any company now. I hope somebody will not experience the same as my experience and I was stress and depress because of that, I can’t do anything or to question them that time. because I have no knowledge about the Furnace if its really can repair or not. What is said that’s it. All I observed is why somebody called me individual from his cellphone outside the office which he knew that I already called the office and trying to schedule himself before the schedule of the office will come and he offer me and maybe he knows somebody inside the office to cancel the real schedule.
Terrible services by call centre agent
Terrible services from the call centre agents, transferring from one agent to another, them yo another without any result. i’ve spent over 2 hours for no reason. Govt should take strict action against the services
Over a 24 months of payment (around 44.54CAD), it did reduce only 330CAD altogether from capital cost, Call centre is having no answer for the breakdown. The call centre calculator has only Buy-out payment options. This is not realising by the govt or they haven’t taken the action.
On top of that, reliance is selling protection plan by calling consumer
we were customers for a long time and trying to finish this business has become a farce we cancelled everything in august and our contract was over in september i paid in october the final bill and now get a bill for rental that we no longer have , calling the home office to settle this puts me on hold for over 20 minutes we have the receipts for equipment pick up but still get charged the service people that came to the house were great but the office is a real joke
3 months of BS phone calls and no action
We had the furnace, A/C and humidifier removed beginning of Sept/21. They automatically took money Sept and Oct.. I put a stop on Nov (would have earlier but they would likely ding my credit score). Oct 29/21 they are looking for the returned parts. I explained that they dispatched a vehicle for pickup at the house and we have signatures of the 2 men. I do not need to prove anything else. It is taking 2 months and I still have not received my over-payment. Taking money (not yours-product returned) is theft. The nerve when they had sent a bill for the 3rd month!!!! We had their water tank removed and returned.. I want the LIEN taken off the house. But I was told another 15 days approx. From my conversation–their notes are inaccurate and INCOMPLETE. When ending the contract it should be simple for them to notify the right dept to STOP AUTO-PAYMENT. what went wrong? 3 months and still incomplete!!! Finally got to speak to Resolution Dept. Fingers crossed this will be the end of it…
$250 Exit Fee
I have been with Reliance for 13 years. The rental contract was originally signed with their predecessor Live Clean in 2018.
I do not remember that I have had any reasons to complain about their support services, except for one service call. The light on my water tank was continuously flickering on and off. Instead of coming to my home to fix the problem, the technician was on the phone to guide me to solve the issue. However, the problem continued. Another technician traced the problem to an obstruction of the pipe, the air flow was continuously disrupted. After we called a chimney expert for removal of the obstruction, a dead bird, the problem was finally resolved.
The rusting on my water tank was not resolved as easily. I called support twice last year or so but I was informed that the water tank could continue to be in good condition for many years to come. The rusting issue was not a concern at all. I did ask for a replacement, but was told that I need to pay $800 dollars for a new one.
I have now decided to switch to Enercare. I do not agree that Reliance should charge me $250.00 as an exit fee. I would not switch if Reliance has given me a new tank last year.
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!