Distress Law and Legal Definition

Distress is the seizure of another’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed. Distress is the act or process by which a person (distrainor) seizes the personal property of another located upon the distrainor's land. This is done in satisfaction of a claim, as a pledge for performance of a duty, or in reparation of an injury. Distress is done even without prior court approval. Distress also refers to the seizure of goods or chattels belonging to the tenant by the landlord to sell the goods for the payment of the rent. Distresses at common law and distresses prescribed by statute are different. Distresses at common law are taken nomine penae, as a means of compelling payment and it cannot be sold. In the case of distresses prescribed by statute it is similar to executions, and are taken as satisfaction for a duty.