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
8 years after rental cancellation, I received a final notice letter.. which was actually the first correspondence, I was put into collections for the purchase of the hot water tank.. and not the owner of the house.. Why wouldn’t the rental be removed from his property instead of pinning the full price of his hot water tank on me? My conclusion is this company only cares about their profits.. seems many unsatisfied customers would agree!
Dishonest sales reps
BEWARE of sales representatives. We purchased a furnace and AC from reliance which was to be paid for in 84 months. After doing the math we discovered it was more economical to purchase than to rent. Before signing the contract I pointed out to the sales rep that the contract to be signed was a rental agreement instead of a purchase agreement. He told me “it doesn’t matter because the same contract was used for both since both are paid up in 84 months. Being the honest person that I am and not wanting to embarrass anyone I signed the agreement not realizing there were people so totally dishonest. When 84 months was up I contacted reliance to ensure my time was up and the furnace and AC were fully paid. I was shocked only to be told that “Oh no you have a rental”. After consoling myself I explained my case and was told by an extremely rude supervisor at head office that “There should have been more dialogue with the sales rep”. Excuse me!!! There should not have been a need forANY dialogue if we had an HONEST sales rep. The only thing they could do was offer us to buy the furnace(7yrs old) for $6300!!! Absolutely insane. We have purchase another new furnace and AC from Crystal Heating for the same price as reliance’s 7yr old furnace. There were faults discovered in the installation of the reliance furnace e.g. there was a metal plate inside that restricted the heat flow from the furnace to the duct work, the humidifier on the furnace was hooked up wrong etc. After being a customer of reliance for 30 yrs I refuse to have ANY further dealings with reliance and their corrupt proceedings and I encourage others to stay clear of this “so called” company. I will be seeking legal assistance
Inherited previous owners tank
In 2011 they wanted me to carry on the rental of the previous homeowner but any fool can see you can buy a tank many times over and still be cheaper than this option. They would charge me to remove it and pick it up if I wanted it out of there. I removed it myself and delivered it to their shop in Ottawa and made sure I got a receipt for it. I never heard any more from them but lots from other dissatisified clients.
Once You Buy a Furnace they pass the buck
I purchased a furnace from Reliance. They wanted me to buy a furnace they had in stock but I was interested in another Brand they said they carried only because of past experience with the same brand. Within a week of installation, the temperatures had dropped. I set the thermostat at 72 degrees. The following morning the thermostat still showed set at 72 degrees, however, the temperature in the living room was 59 degrees. (my cat was crying because it was so cold). I figured perhaps the two stage was only staying in one stage because it never shut off and it remained cold. I called the salesman from whom I purchased the furnace and his response was “You picked the furnace. Not my problem; call the service department.” How about that for customer service? Doesn’t anyone give a damn anymore? Once the sale is done all the niceties are gone! Too bad the check had gone through just a day prior because I would have stopped payment had I known what I now know. It is Saturday and when I called Service they said it won’t be until Wednesday of next week that they will resolve this problem. I am a senior citizen who lives alone and this is unacceptable. Gone are the days of customer service and integrity. I am sure going to find out if the thermostat is compatible with this furnace because my bet is that it is a one stage thermostat and its not communicating with the furnace. Not to mention 400.00 worth of propane that is being sucked up because the furnace does not shut off..
reliance telling me to buy out. it would be the original price of the tank. more than 3000
reliance told me when i called to get rid of the tank i didnt want to pay anymore for that i must drop it off or i would be charged a rediculous amount. i then said what about if i buy it outright. they said they dont prorate and that i would have to pay for the original cost of the tank.
i dont want their tank anymore but have to keep with the contract
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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!