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
Replaced Hot Water Heater not working
We live in Brampton and about a month ago we had Reliance come and replace the old tank which was leaking.The new tank worked for about a month and on Saturday it stopped working so we called service and a tech came out and said it needed a new control board, so it was ordered and a tech came to install it but also found that it needed another part, which he didn’t have
We have been without hot water for 6 days and counting so we have been on the phone for hours with other people. No one can resolve this. We asked to replace the tank and no reply. In the meantime We have called enercare and are having the old tank removed and returned to Reliance and are having a new one installed.
Reliance your Customer Care is horrible and if this is the way you treat your customers I hope they all switch to enercare for better service and care. Shame on you to leave us without hot water for days
Reliance Plugged Up our Kitchen Sink and Won’t come back to Fix It!!!
You convinced us months ago to sign up to your monthly plumbing coverage plan. So when our kitchen sink started backing up we called to have it fixed. You sent Kevin out on Tues and he actually ocmpletely blocked up the drain somehow. He left saying he’ll be back the next morning with a power flusher to push the plug through. Never showed up so we called you guys and turns our you can’t find Kevin. Rich came by late afternoon and poured a bottle of Javelin into the sink, which just sat on the plugged up sink not doing anything. Rich said it’s crappy he has to fix what Kevin did but he’ll come back next morning with a snake to fix what Kevin left. Long story short It’s Friday eve and even after repeated calls to Reliance no one has come back again to fix the kitchen sink. WORST SERVICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY EVER. DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO ANY PLAN WITH THEM. LOOKING INTO CANCELLING ALL SERVICES WITH THEM AND SEEING HOW TO UNPLUG SINK BY OURSELVES!
Don’t get business with reliance
We have 2 years old furnace and AC, that a reliance sales convinced us to buy (a choice we will never take again). Since October we had continous issues, let me list some for you:
Chip circuit issues
Every night our heat stops working, we get a report from nest as well (we do have reports and supporting documents), we wake up and the house is freezing cold.
I called customer resolutions million times they told me they will get someone to call me back to find a decent solution for whats going on, and as usual no one cared to call us.
We called customer solutions to lower the amount we pay as the equipment doesn’t deserve this money, no one took any action or cared.
The house has been freezing cold since Wednesday, and the contractor who came on Friday forgot to put notes on file they had to chase him to find which part needs to be ordered. After 48 plus hours they sent internal tech on Sunday to look into the issue and this time it is a pressure tube.
We pay 150 dollars per month to rent reliance equipment which doesn’t work.
This is an on going issue, and no body is providing us with real compensation or resolution.
Now we are looking to buy out the equipment to save us the 150 per month that we waste and guess what are they saying the equipment is worse? 9000 dollars!!! For equipment stops working every night. Doesn’t make any sense.
There explanations it is a market value …their condition can’t be compared to a market value its garbage.
We are willing to take this case to ctv news and further to social media.
RENTAL COSTS NEVER END!!! You pay over $5,000
Do not get into a rental agreement with reliance!! You can not afford to break the contract. They charge you close to $500 to pickup their tank if removed and will charge you for removal, even if the tank is over 10 years ole. You will end up paying $5,000 to $8,000 for a tank that is worth $1,500.
Do yourself a favour, if you are buying a house with a reliance tank bite the bullet and end the contract or you will be paying for the next decade plus!
Reliance is the worst business I have ever dealt with
I bought a house in 2019 and it came with a rental tankless water heater which was installed by Reliance in 2010. I decided to keep the service, In December 2021 the unit started to leak and provided zero hot water to the house. I called up and was told they would be there between 10:am and 2:pm the following day. They did not show up that day or the following two days. Each time I called their office, they pretended that was the first time they had heard of the problem.
The serviceman came on the 4th day and turned the water off. He said the unit was not repairable and he would return the following day with a new replacement unit. He never showed up. Again, I called and there was no indication that anyone was aware of the problem. They offered to book an appointment for two weeks down the road.
Based on the fact that I have a sick person in the house and need the hot water on, I told them that they should at least come and remove the unit so that I can have another company install one in a more timely manner. They told me that the earliest they could come and remove it, is January 30, 2022. I asked them if it is OK to have the other company remove it, they said that I have to return it to them myself 80 KM away.
This is the worst customer service I have ever experienced in my life. I am giving this a ONE star because the system will not allow me to give them a 0.
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!