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
2014 – Reliance acquires National Home Services, which was fined for door-to-door sales practices
Competition Bureau makes National Home Services (acquired by Reliance on same day) pay $7 million for misleading door-to-door sales
2014 Competition Tribunal consent agreement
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
They didn’t show up
I have had a plumbing service contract with reliance for over 10 years. They used to be good and reliable, not any more.
I called last week for a plumber and was given an afternoon appointment 4-8 pm. After a long wait, I called them to see if the plumber is coming, to my amazement they told me that the plumber has already been to my house and submitted a report that the issue has been fixed!!!!! very incompetent, I am extremely disappointed. Needless to say, I am looking for another company.
On February 01 , 2023 , When 3 Reliance technicians changed the new shut off gas valve for new furnace in Chatham Canada, they has to shut off the main valve at the gas meter outside. When they turned the main gas valve back on , they were forgot relight the pilot light for hot water tank . we were not happy for relight the pilot light. What is kind of professional from reliance technicians like that ?
Awful customer service
This company has the worst customer service. We emailed and called repeatedly over two months to request a correction on our bill. We also requested corrected bills. It took two months to correct the bills for the next billing cycle. We still have not received corrected bills. Our emails are not answered. This has been an awful experience. Stay away.
Tried to get out of a rental agreement
We purchased a home in September which had a rental water heater from Reliance.
We have tried, and tried, and tried, and tried to get out of the contract for months even though the previous owner call them to cancel the contract as we were installing our own water heater.
It took months with many phone calls for them to cancel, to which every time we call we always had a different agent who had no clue of our previous calls or conversation references numbers.
Every time we ask to speak to a manager they would never allow us to speak to a supervisor or someone above them.
They kept sending us a bill as well for a couple months; we hope it is finalized now.
We had the same issue years ago with another home with a rental from Sandpiper; both companies are horrible to deal with.
Changing account name after spouses death
After 6 phone calls to take deceased spouse name off of account, 3 emails from reliance requesting death certificate and Will, which was immediately provided, proving I the spouse an the executrix they still messed it up. This company is incompetent, still having issues as I also have another reliance account that they actually removed my name and left deceased spouses name on that account, so the phone calls start again. Absolutely no excuse for the incompetence.
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!
As homeowners we were also shocked three years ago when we went to get a line of credit and were turned down because of a lien Reliance put on our house. We had no choice but to pay it off, which was a lot of money! We got a lawyer and it was discharged. It’s been three years since that happened and we went to extend our line of credit just two months ago to find out that the lien was never taken off! ! Apparently, the Land Titles Registry Office doesn’t have to tell homeowners when this happens so the owners could still have a lien even though you have a discharge. Maxium Financial was the company Home Reliance went through to put a lien on my property, but Maxium Financial had changed their name to a numbered company and it’s necessary to include that in the paperwork when taking the lien off. The Land Titles Registry Office gave Reliance 5-8 days to fix this paper work in order to take the lien off and Reliance never bothered, so the Registry withdrew the discharge and kept the lien on the house. Here we are three years later, we owe nothing after paying reliance a huge lump sum of money, and we now have two lawyers trying to contact someone at Reliance to help us (specifically, the woman who signed off on it the first time they tried to discharge it). She won’t return their emails and calls. My lawyers don’t understand why they won’t take the time to fill in papers to take a lien off of our property when we don’t owe them any money. This is our life that they are messing with. We cannot secure any line of credit ever again with any bank until they complete the paperwork and have the lien taken off. What are they gaining from doing this to us, after paying them three years ago. Unfortunately, we are now discussing court action at this point and going to CHCH media, who is very interested in this story if they have more people willing to share. It looks like there are many, so this definitely is an option I will now start exploring this week.
Sounds familiar. It is becoming a fight to get the lien lifted on my property. Just see who owns Reliance and you will understand why there is a ‘don’t care attitude’