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Landlord Distraints

Also known as Distress Against Goods, Landlord Distraints is the seizure and liquidation of tenant’s goods in the amount sufficient to cover costs and rent arrears.

The rules specify a landlord cannot also change the locks or prevent entry by the tenant.

Pursuant to the Commercial Tenancies Act, R.S.O. 1990, commercial landlords generally have two options: either a landlord’s right to Distress (also called Distraint), or Termination of Lease. Here we will discuss Landlord Distraint.

It should be noted that for every tenant, the specific terms of the commercial lease must be considered. Even without a signed lease in place, a landlord may, in some circumstances, still exercise the right to distraint. Napier Bailiffs, having been duly appointed by the Ontario Government since 1963, has the authority to act for the landlord and has the expertise to consult with you on an individual tenant basis.

Landlord's Distress is the seizure of goods sufficient to recover unpaid rent. Recent court precedent has deemed it unlawful to both seize goods and lock the doors thus preventing the tenant from carrying on business, unless very specific circumstances exist. Furthermore, there are a number of government agencies whose rights to some or all of the monies recovered by the landlord must be considered. Do not paint yourself, as a commercial landlord, into a corner.

An appointed bailiff has the legal authority to enter the tenant’s premises as early as THREE DAYS after the rent is due, and seize goods by:

1. Removing them to a secured location.

- or -

2. Leaving them in care of the tenant after inventorying the goods sufficiently to identify them later.

The Benefits of Hiring a Bailiff are:

  • They will manage the file and steer you through the process.
  • They will help you avoid conflict with the tenant.

In most cases there is no cost to the landlord for these activities. We strive to recover all our costs directly from the tenant.


An added benefit of working with Napier Bailiffs involves our professional mediation skills that we utilize to help the parties come to an amicable resolution. This results in a win/win for both parties, helping keep business relationships intact.

The landlord’s right to Distress for rent is an efficient and effective method of eliminating delay tactics and achieving commercial rent recovery.

To determine if your circumstances warrant a Landlord's Distress or Termination, Reach Out.

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