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
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
Furnace not running
Placed a emergency call to Reliance Home Comfort, took 28 hr for tech to arrive. House Temp was 4 Degreed C. Tech found a fault in for Pressure Switch….but did not replace it. I mentioned that the furnace issue I had was intermittent . It did come on when he clear some drain hoses but It went out later that night again. Ended calling another company. They replaced the pressure switch and everything is all Good. Reliance tech seemed inexperienced. the service reflects that
They are crooks
Renting tank was $16.80 monthly. When you cancel. there was a small fee to pick up. But you are charged a couple months after removed.
My final bill was $ 118.65.
NO HEAT FOR 3 DAYS !! Cold DAYS
Could not fix my furnace for 3 days on the 3rd day one of the technician arrived at 8am morning and fixed the problem in 5minutes
My house had no heat for 3days Wednesday February 23 Thursday Feb 24, Friday Feb 25.
Wednesday February 23 I called them at 7PM requesting that they attend to the problem as soon as possible considering its winter and its very cold without an operating furnace and they still told me I had to wait for the technician tomorrow from 7 to 11.. My problem was fixed Friday Feb 25
They did not care about the cold!!! the technicians explained that the one part needed to be repaired, but the technician that fix the problem in 5 minutes 2days later did not see anything broken or that needed it to change. The good technician that was able to helped me his name is Sabah A he was a very kind person able to help me after long days waiting for help. Pls AVOID THIS COMPANY.
They are greedy crooks.
I signed a contract with National Home Service specifically to get away from Reliance. Then low and behold Reliance weasels their way back into our lives. I just received my new rental increase cus, you know we don’t have enough going on with covid and losing money from lockdowns, oh no good ole’ Reliance loves to kick you in the head when you’re down. I despise this company with every fibre of my being. I’ve called a few times about buying out my equipment, but those clowns can never get back to you or give an amount. I have only let one of their techs in my house once during the almost 10 years that their furnace has been here. I don’t like the way they run their business and how they treat customers. I’ve lost my mind on their employees numerous times when they try to act stupid with a question i want answered or if they call to offer some other crap i don’t want. I tell them everyday the i loath their company and will not even let them in my house to insist the furnace i unfortunately have with them.
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