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
Reliance is definitely not reliable
I have been renting from Reliance since we moved into our house in 2000 (which was a surprise when we moved in). The first tank was replaced in 2005 and I have been paying just short of $450/yr over the past 16 years. When my tank started leaking last week and I called for help, Reliance could not send someone for over 24 hours. My laundryroom floor flooded, but they do not help with that or cover damages. When the service agent entered my home he was not wearing a mask. I instructed him not to replace the tank at that time as we were concerned about the long turn over time for repair. He claimed to pump out the tank (but indeed there was still quite a bit of water in it when it was removed). After realizing that we were paying far to much to rent a hot water tank when indeed there was no real advantage over owning one when it comes to service etc. we called Reliance and were given our options. We could pay $125 to disconnect and pick up the tank, or $65 to just pick up the tank or we could drop the tank off for free. Despite paying over 3 times what the tank was worth, not seeing anyone from Reliance for any kind of service for over 16 years and not getting help when we needed it most, I arranged to have the tank disconnected and placed on my driveway for pick up by Reliance. Of course, they now tell me it will take 7 days before they will pick up the tank. I would not recommend Reliance to anyone!!!!
Crooked thieves who think they are above the law.
These thieves think they can enter into a sales agreement, negotiate payments , install the equipment, accept payments and then when the system is fully paid for , change the conditions, trespass on private property, remove essential opperational elements (without even knocking on the door) and endangour the lives (from heat exhaustion) of the peoiple who have completly paid for the system, as has been verified by them upon a reveiew of their their records, by their staff, who have verified that payments were made on full, on schedule. No they get their recordes screwed up, and expect the client to pay for their mistake. DO NOT BUY FROM THEM, THERE ARE HONEST DEALERS OUT THEIR, RELIENCE IS NOT ONE OF THEM.
Wonderful service, our water heater was fixed in record time. Sean, the technician was friendly and knowledgeable. He even came to our house at 7pm. I would recommend this company.
Continued charges after cancelling a service
I signed up for a 14.99 Water heater insurance plan. Big mistake. After cancelling the plan. I continue to be charged every month. Every month, I have called and each successive representative confirms it is cancelled, that no charges are forthcoming, and that past charged will be refunded as a credit.
Instead, I continue to be charged and no refund.
Terrible service and taking advantage of customers. It’s very unfair and predatory.
A surprise bad deal
When we purchased our home, we were not advised by anyone – not the real estate agent, lawyer or even the home inspector that it came with a rented tank. Reliance has been charging us $64.65 per quarter – so $21.55 per month a John Wood 40 gallon, natural gas tank which costs about $1000 brand-new. They won’t let me buy it out, I have to either bring it to their drop-off point an hour away or pay to have them come pick it up.
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!