Landlord Distress Seizure

As a landlord, common law allows you the right to seize for unpaid rent.


Rent must be in arrears. You may also seize for accelerated rent if the rental agreement allows. Taxes, or other charges can be added if the rental agreement states they are collectable as rent.

You may not seize personal property belonging to anyone other than the tenant or person liable for the rent.

The personal property to be seized must be on the rented premises.

If the tenant removes property form the rented premises to avoid seizure, the property can be followed for thirty days. In this case you must show by sworn affidavit (Affidavit of Clandestine) that the debtor’s property was removed specifically to avoid seizure.

In order to seize a vehicle belonging to a tenant, that vehicle must be located on the rented premises.

The debtor has a right to serve a notice of Objection to Seizure on the Civil Enforcement Agency within 15 days from the date of the service of the seizure documents.

How to Initiate a Seizure

The Civil Enforcement Act stipulates that only Civil Enforcement Agencies are authorized to effect seizures. Seizure is defined as the act of taking possession of personal property. The Act further requires that the Civil Enforcement Agency use only Civil Enforcement Bailiffs appointed by the Sheriff for that purpose. When a Bailiff is carrying out his duties under the Civil Enforcement Act, he is a Peace Officer.

A Civil Enforcement Bailiff will act on instructions received from the Agency. The instructing Party will forward a Warrant along with The Letter of Instructions to the Civil Enforcement Agency who will review the Instructions, prepare the seizure package and issue the file to an appointed Bailiff.

The Warrant

The Warrant is the document which provides the direction and authority to seize against a debtor for unpaid rent, to seize the personal property of a debtor, or to commence enforcement proceedings against an enforcement debtor. It must be completed and signed by the Instructing Party and must be given to the Civil Enforcement Agency.

Click here to fill out a warrant.

The Letter of Instructions

These are the Instructions to the Civil Enforcement Agency from the instructing Party. It should note any urgency or unusual circumstances, whether removal of the property is required, a form of indemnification, or whether the debtor is aware of any legal impediments to seizure.

Click here to fill out a letter of instruction.

Bailee’s Undertaking

When effecting the seizure, the Bailiff may leave the seized personal property with a responsible person who agrees to keep the seized property and is responsible for its safekeeping and delivery to the Civil Enforcement Agency when requested. This may in some cases be the debtor.