I came across a situation recently which left me wondering what the legal outcome was. It's a little academic, since it'll never actually come to pass, but I'd be interested in hearing the legal theories behind it.

The TL;DR of the story:

I moved into a rental property. The existing wifi was terrible, so I spent a couple of weeks going back and forth with the landlord and the ISP to sort it out. Despite it being an ISP issue, the ISP offered us £50 to sort the issue out ourselves. I came up with a solution that stayed almost within that £50, proposed it, and the landlord and ISP were happy.

Said solution involved buying a few bits of network hardware. The landlords were happy with this, but they said that instead of them buying the hardware for me with the ISP's 'contribution', I should buy the hardware and they would reimburse me up to a maximum of £60 (the ISP's £50, plus a 'goodwill gesture' from them of £10 max).

Long story short, I bought the hardware for around £58. I'm still waiting on the reimbursement, but it'll come through as soon as the banks clear it.

And now to the question. Whose is the ownership of these various bits of network hardware?

  • Mine, because I bought them and just received the same amount back from the landlord (i.e. there was no transfer of ownership due to reimbursement); or
  • Theirs, because they paid me the £58 with the intention of that paying for the hardware (i.e. the reimbursement transfers ownership to them)?

1 Answer 1


You bought the item following the instructions of the landlords, and they are paying for the item (specifically, reimbursement).

So, you were acting as an agent for the landlords, and the item is theirs. Of course, you could withhold it until you get paid (unless your agreement specified otherwise).

  • 1
    Be careful with the last sentence- if the goods have been delivered then unless the contract has a retention of title clause they are the landlords even if not paid for. Taking them back would be stealing.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 19:20
  • @DaleM But as I understand it, the device is in the OP (rented) home. Would it count as stealing if he has not physically delivered it to them?
    – SJuan76
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 20:41
  • if you want to post that as a question I will have a go at answering it
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 23:05

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