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
an original customer given run-around about ‘new’ contract not honoring terms of original deal
we are a reliance customer from when they first started out. 2yrs ago a part attached to the furnace that directs combustion water to the basement drain stopped working. they tried to say we owed them $600.+ for the part. they tried to say our plan did not cover the part by showing me a copy of the ‘new’ type of contracts that they sell now. i showed him a copy of the ‘old’ original contract that we never got rid of that , lo and behold. absolutely covers that part. After much arguing and many phone calls they finally accepted our original agreement and contract., BUT not until all that headache. And then they wondered if we would like to get on their ‘platinum plan’ or some damn thing, for only an extra $100. or so a month. I quite clearly and explicitly explained that under no circumstances would i give up a contract that provides me with all the platinum plan goodies for a fraction of the platinum plan cost. i asked them if they thought i was nuts or something or perhaps they were. no more phone-calls after that. what the !?!?!?
Protection Plans without my permission
I have been billed for two protection plans that I have never authorized The System Protection Plan and the Plumbing Protection Plan. They have been taking these monies out of my account to the tune of over one thousand dollars!. I have been on the phone daily with them trying to get a refund for these service plans that I have never authorized. All I am getting is the royal run around. I just submitted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau and have also spoken with my lawyer, my next step will be to go to social media. This is totally disgusting! On top of all of this, I am terminally ill and am having to fight daily to get the money back that they took from my account.
Reliance Customer Service
This company was provided knowledge of a move date in March 2022 for end of April 2022 and as of today, August 8/22, are still charging us on our previous property. They are trying to make it our responsibility as the new owner has not signed up an account. This company is destroying our credit rating. An inside sales rep has never returned our calls related to an air conditioning unit that was installed under false pretenses this summer. In addition, we have been trying for over 2 months to have a service warranty under the previous owner transferred to our name. Again, no call backs! Every phone call we have made is over 40 minutes on hold! Worst customer service ever!
Customer Service Issues
It’s been months since I contacted Reliance Home Comfort regarding a complaint about service rendered at our home and to date I have yet to get a resolution. I have sent several emails and calls and yet have heard nothing back. I am a customer who pays for service on a monthly basis I should not be treated like this. If I didn’t pay my bill they would have no problem suspending my service but I because Reliance has the upper hand I am at their mercy. THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!!!
Repair hot water tank
I contacted Reliance on Saturday August 13th to have my hot water tank looked at ( no hot water). I was told I would have someone out to the house between 12pm and 6pm( cause I have nothing better to do on Saturday between 12-6). I waited all day, at 5pm I called again to confirm that my service call had not been forgotten. I was told that I would receive a call from the service technician within the hour.
So I waited till after 6pm, then I called again. At this point I am told I will get a phone call back in 10 minutes, I wait 30 minutes. Then I call again ( are we seeing a pattern) its now going on 7pm. I am a little salty at this point, so I am put on hold for over 20 minutes then I am disconnected. Once again I call back and told that “no there is no one coming out today but we can book you an appointment for Monday!!!!!!!!! I guess I don’t need to shower for 3 days or wash dishes or laundry. Absolutely TERRIBLE service!!
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