The seizure of PERSONAL PROPERTY for the satisfaction of a demand.
The process of distress, sometimes called distrain, began at COMMON LAW wherein a land-lord had the right to confiscate the chattels of a tenant who had defaulted on a rent payment. Today, it is regulated by statute, and is used to mean the taking of property to enforce the performance of some obligation.
A warrant of distress is a writ that authorizes an officer to seize a person's goods. It is usually used in situations where a landlord has the right to obtain a lien on a tenant's goods for nonpayment of rent.
If personal property is seized to enforce the payment of taxes and then publicly sold if the taxes are not subsequently paid, the sale is called a distress sale. Distressed goods are chattels sold at a distress sale.