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
Water heater and filtration
Horrible experience. We own a newer home which the hot water tank was on contract with Reliance. The water heater was leaving black residue staining our bath tubs. After 5 or 6 service calls I asked the anode be replaced as it was likely the cause of the issue they finally agreed. Then they start pitching sales add ons and convince my wife while I was at work to upgrade the tank for tankless system, also take it upon themselves to test our water and tell her the water is very bad. They use our kids as a reason to sell her the water filtration system saying it’s not good to have your kids bath in this kind of water or even drink it. Due to the sales pitch my wife agrees to sign up for water filtration as any mother wants to protect her kids. I called the city and they sent me the water quality levels and they are all within normal limits and there are zero issues with our water. Since my wife agreed to sign up they installed the system to try it out. First day after install water is pouring from filtration system, they come back next day to fix it, then the day after that, water dripping from ceiling. They come back 2 days later. Now we’re on day 4, my wife doesn’t like quality of water as it’s slimy so she asks salesman to fix it or when can she get it removed. Salesman just says to adjust levels and disregards the question about removal without penalty. Wife contacts salesman a couple days later with same issue with water and to remove it and salesman says to lower filtration levels again, and again ignores questions about removal. Next day wife calla to get it removed from headquarters and they say your trial period has expired. We now have to pay to get it removed $800. Wife asked if she could hire her own technician and return the filters, they say no obviously and now we’re out $800.
Basically from my perspective they scam you in order to sign up for services with “trial period”, delay long enough so they can still make money in the end if client doesn’t want their systems. I would avoid this company at all costs, they are in the taking money business from honest people regardless of their website stating 100% customer satisfaction guarantees. Also technicians are not very qualified to be honest 2 leaks in 2 days from pex water lines is quite poor quality in my opinion.
Side note: During high covid infection rates throughout the country, technicians are wearing masks on their chins.
Still Waiting for Refund
I get the concept of renting versus buying. That is not my issue. I was extremely unhappy with Reliance especially during the lock out in July 2022. Trying to reach them on the phone was a nightmare. I was concerned about not being able to make contact and a friend of mine went without hot water for two weeks. Reliance didn’t seem to care what was happening.
I had my hot water heater replaced by Syles who returned the Reliance Hot water tank. Reliance did not stop the billing and it became a drawn out process. They said they processed a refund but I have yet to get it.
I was still a customer as my furnace was with Reliance.
Even though the furnace was returned by Syles on March 28, 2022, I am having difficulty with Reliance in closing my account. Long waits on telephone, live chat cannot help and Reliance is not acknowledging the equipment was returned. The time, the effort is totally unreasonable. When am I going to get my refund? Do I have to go to court. How is it that even though my account number was given with the return, they never seem to have that information and I have to turn inside out. I am done, done, done.
Unprofessional, DO NOT buyout their hot water tank from Reliance home comfort unless you get them check the unit before purchasing it.
I had rental agreement for hot water tank with this company since I purchase my house for more than 11 years. only twice called this company for service during this time and never real issues with this unit. they started increasing the rental on us past few years and I decided to buy out this unit from them since last letter from them really pissed me off for increase to $40 per month.
I called and asked them to discontinue the rental agreement with them and give them back the unit, so I go on my own to buy a new unit.. but they made the process impossible since they asked me to carry the unit to them (not them removing the unit from my property). I had googled and there was cases where the company claimed that the unit never got to them and still charged the customer. there we decided the buyout this old unit and see if that last us couple more years … The company never came to check the unit to see if this is in good standing before selling it to me. although I requested that at the time of purchase. they said if there is nothing wrong with it, we do not send technician. we bought out the unit end of Jan and few days after the purchase, we started getting issues with this unit. the unit would not stay lit and intermittently turning off. while I was still under their rental agreement several times I contacted them and stayed on line for long time to reach someone, but we were able to lit it and started working. I called them end of March and asked them to send someone to see this unit they sold to us was immediately giving us trouble and they said you are no longer our customer and we do not want to deal with you. They even refused to put me back on rental with this old unit since I had already paid $955 for this old and faulty rental. The company is really unprofessional and did not care about a customer who was with them for 11 years. no loyalty nothing… they rip you off any chance they get… . from my point of view, I paid rental for more than 11 years, with total of more than $3500 and at the end paid $955 and this crappy unit cose me more than $4500 and the company does not even send a technician to view this unit to see if there was a serious issue. this is the least they could do for their loyal customer….
Worst company ever to deal with.
Asked for a buy out on two pieces of equipment. I was given an amount to pay in witch i paid and now they want more money. I swear its not a good company to deal with. The staff is very difficult to deal with and hard to understand on the phone. If you live out west of the country there office hours do not work. If I could give 0 stars I would. Already had 3 family friends go else wear as I told them my headaches with reliance.
Asked to cancel my furnace and air conditioner rental contract and keep getting a run around.
Called the rental cancelation phone number, when talking to the operator gave them my email address and asked them to send me a email with the total amount including sales tax. She the operator said she had sent the email with the total amount . I`ve been checking my emails since I call @ 2pm this afternoon it is 11:21pm still no email . 3/22I2022 I`ve been with reliance since they took over the sale equipment department from Union Gas Company
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!