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
Incompetence, delays and lack of compassion for 5 days.
Don’t give a cent to this company. After being a loyal customer for 10 years, I, unfortunately, needed to make use of my heating protection plan. My furnace completely stopped working (Friday) and it was -18 outside.
1.) I had to wait over 36 hours for a technician to arrive at my home to diagnose the problem. The technician was supposed to arrive between 8 am and 1 pm. (Sunday.) He arrived at 3:30 pm. He was able to diagnose the problem and needed a part. He told us that the part was in the Burlington warehouse and that it would take approximately 1 hour to go and get the part. 25 minutes later he came back and said the warehouse didn’t have the part.
2.) The part took 48 hours to arrive at my home. I was not allowed to pick up the part myself from the warehouse. A technician was not able to pick up the part and arrive at my home early in the day to install my part. It had to be delivered by courier.
3.) After receiving the part, I had to call Reliance and book ANOTHER tech appointment. My new appointment was from 4 pm to 8pm on Tuesday.
4.) At 5:55pm on Tuesday, my husband noticed a Reliance truck drive by our home without stopping. At 6:05pm I received an email saying that the technician was unable to contact us at our home and canceled our appointment.
5.) I called Reliance and they are unaware that the technician canceled the appointment.
6.) It is 7:45 pm on Tuesday and I have been assured that a technician will be arriving at my home by 8 pm. I am not feeling very optimistic.
The customer service representatives were unhelpful, and apparently, all of them have experienced no heat in their homes for almost 5 days.
Don’t Buy a Furnace from these people (Especially in the Winter)
I am a female senior individual. I purchased a furnace from Reliance. Because it was winter and I was without a primary heat source, I was encouraged to go with another brand that they had in stock for faster service but had my heart set on a different furnace. The following week I was informed that my furnace had arrived. (Tuesday morning) however they would get back to me about installation. I was informed the next day that they wouldn’t be able to install the furnace until the following week. Meanwhile they are calling for -24 temperatures for the next couple of evenings. In hind site I guess it wouldn’t have mattered if I order their brand because they are too busy for installations anyway. Not too concerned about my welbeing.
Avoid if possible
I have a rental furnace and AC and plumbing protection. I have a low end furnace (with too large of a blower for my AC) and have been paying for plumbing services for months without resolution of the only plumbing problem I asked for assistance. They sent several different plumbers every time I called for the same problem. No one fixed it and I had to keep calling for service. One said that it required a part that they would order and he never returned. The others that followed all had different “solutions” and the last one said it required opening walls to determine the issue but that wasn’t covered. Be careful in reviewing the scope of services covered. My main complaint is that they don’t resolve issues and make it difficult to elevate issues to get resolutions. There is no continuity when you call them. You have to explain your circumstance from the beginning and be prepared to be transferred or disconnected. Even cancelling service requires follow-up. Very frustrating and waste of time.
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.
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!