abuse of distress


Also found in: Dictionary.

abuse of distress

The wrongful or unlawful use or sale of property that has been seized in order to force payment or the performance of some contractual obligation (known in law as the process of distress or distrain). It was a clear case of abuse of distress: the landlord, without a court order, changed the locks on the door and then seized and sold the tenants' belongings only an hour after serving them a notice of eviction. They're taking their landlord to court on the grounds of "abuse of distress"—apparently, he seized their cottage. You can't just seize your tenants' property because they're two days late on their rent—that's abuse of distress.
See also: abuse, distress, of
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
See also: