Distraint or distress is "the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed", especially in common law countries. Distraint is the act or process "whereby a person (the distrainor), traditionally even without prior court approval, seizes the personal property of another located upon the distrainor's land in satisfaction of a claim, as a pledge for performance of a duty, or in reparation of an injury. Distraint typically involves the seizure of goods (chattels) belonging to the tenant by the landlord to sell the goods for the payment of the rent. In the past, distress was often carried out without court approval, but today some kind of court action is usually required.
In England in 1267 the Statute of Marlborough was passed making distraint illegal without a court order.
Certain goods are protected against distraint - these are called "privileged goods". Such goods include, for example, goods belonging to the state, fixtures, goods delivered to the tenant or debtor for business purposes, the goods of a guest, perishable goods (e.g. food), livestock, gas, water, electricity, and tools of the tenant's trade.
Distraint will be abolished in the UK when the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, s.71 comes into force, replacing the remedy, solely for leases on commercial property, by a statutory system of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR).
Article 61 of the 1215 document extended the law of distraint to the monarchs properties.
LAW REPORT: Time for Tender or Payment of Amount Due during Distraint ; 19 July 2000 Wilson V South Kesteven District Council Court of Appeal, Civil Division (Lord Justice Simon Brown, Lord Justice Schiemann and Lord Justice Mummery) 13 July 2000
Jul 19, 2000; A DEBTOR subject to distraint proceedings in respect of unpaid non-domestic rates might only tender payment of the amount...