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
$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.
I am very pleased with the plumber (Malcolm Murray) He was very patient and did a really excellent job. He was experienced and professional. I highly recommended with the service that was provided. Thank you Reliance!
they are liars and crooks
I wish I had checked with my friends first. Anyone who has ever worked with Reliance, especially if they move and try to pay off the account, will all tell you that after making payments on your equipment for years, you still end up paying a way more to get out of it, than you owed when you first got your equipment. When you get the pay out quote and pay the whole amount in full, they start bugging you for the money to close the account. They bugged me fpr months for $229.15 to close the account and kept threatening to put it on the “Credit Bureau”. We were getting harrasing calls from them at 7:30 in the morning. We finally paid them just to get rid of the harazzing calls. Crooks!
Left damaged door and water soaked carpet
Reliance service crew/technician came to fix the leakage of the water heater (Rental from Reliance). They fixed it but left the damaged door and didn’t clean/dry the wet carpet. I do not know where to complain and ask them to fix/clean up their mess.
Reliance Home Comfort is unscrupulous, totally dishonest!
The sales got your deal giving you first few months for free. Then they billed you monthly fee $5 more than that in the agreement and did not give you the free monthly fee. As I signed up for electronic payment, I found out quickly the wrong billing and stopped my autopay immediately via online service.
I contacted the sales, nothing was done. Called customer service regarding the error payment, they said the error is rectified and got me to check next month, monthly fee rectified but still no free monthly fee, and there is late payment fine. I called every month to reverse the late fine and to keep their promise on the free monthly fee and I told them I will not pay until the bill is corrected!
I gave them one star cause finally a customer service helped to rectify everything after 4 months. But I was surprised that the so called free monthly fee does not include HST, lol.
After I setup autopay when the free months are over, the bill said there’s autopay and no action required but next month they charge me late payment fine! The Reliance billing system just sucks, they did not deduct from my credit card! I got the same customer service that resolved my previous problem and problem was resolved next month.
If I did not check my bill and cancelled my autopay, they will just keep charging! Don’t trust this company. I had a friend with the similar problem but she was not lucky like me.
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!