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
My mother had her water heater replaced over the weekend and the service reps disconnected her washing machine water connection. They left and forgot to reconnect it but pushed the washer back in place. The washing machine was used later that day flooding the condo with several inches of water. Numerous elements throughout the house were ruined and it took two days and the rental of industrial fans to clean the water up. In the process serval items were damaged. When we contacted them, they sent a rep which stated ‘this is not our responsibility’ while swearing, yelling and being overly disrespectful to the elderly supervisor of the building. Extremely disappointing and honestly inexcusable!
Hot water heater failure
A “one-star” rating for this company’s performance is far too generous. I returned a failing hot water heater unit to their depot as instructed and they lost the paperwork or failed to register its return. They continued to invoice me for a year and then sent the account to a collection agency who continue to harass me. These people are either incompetent or crooks – maybe both. My advice – buy your own water heater and avoid using this company at all costs.
too bad there’s no zero or negative rating
Don’t let this company into your home!
I have had a Reliance furnace a little over a year. I made the unfortunate decision to lease the furnace thinking that it would improve the level of service. SURPRISE, there is no service whatsoever. On extremely cold days we have called for a no heat condition and been told the earliest appointment was three or four days in the future. The company I previously had a contract with guaranteed 4 hours in the event of no heat. That is what you need. Days without heat when it is -25 C is unacceptable. We were fortunate enough to find another contractor who could respond to the EMERGENCY, I have also been cautoned that buying out the lease agreement will result in retaliation and probably a lean being placed on my house. DO NOT DEAL WITH THIS COMPANY!
Terrible service on cancellation
I rented a water heater rental from Reliance. It rusted out in 2 years and they replaced it. The second unit rusted out 2 years later. In both cases my water was rusty which I am sure comes with some health issues but it has also plugged up the thermostatic control valves on all my showers. The technician refused to replace the tank again since they said it was not the right product for the application (after 4 years they determined this) and wanted to sell me a product that would cost over twice as much. In the end they agreed that they would simply terminate the contract. I am now typing this note as I have been on hold for 45 minutes today trying to explain this to their office. They now want to charge me to end our agreement. They have me hold for roughly an hour now. I cant believe they treat customer this way. I would not deal with them ever again.
Hot water tank repair
I’ve been out of hot water for 6 days and I’m renting a hot water tank from reliance and apparently they can’t fix it until next week… totally unacceptable but that’s the best they can do. they say they can’t get a new tank but l’m able to get a new one at multiple locations but they won’t honour anything that doesn’t come from one of their suppliers…wow…at the price they charge and their promise to get the repairs done within 24 hours, I would definitely not recommend this company especially that I’ve had the same problem 4 times since
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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!