Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Distraint Definition:

The right of a landlord to seize the property of a tenant which is in the premises being rented, as collateral against a tenant that has not paid the rent or has otherwise defaulted on the lease, such as wanton disrepair or destruction of the premises.

A common way to distrain against a tenant is by changing locks and giving notice to the tenant.

A legal action to reclaim goods that have been distrained is called replevin.

The summary holding of a tenant's goods and chattels for unpaid rent is also known as distress.

Historically, to attempt to steal or take back goods which have been lawfully distrained constituted an old common law criminal law offence called rescue.


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