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Distress

Reform

The Government has published a draft “Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill” with detailed explanatory notes. The Bill when enacted will abolish the current law on distress for rent but will replace it with a modified regime (called Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery or CRAR) for recovering rent arrears due under leases of commercial premises. Landlords will be able to use the new procedure in Schedule 11 entitled “Taking Control of Goods” to take control of tenant’s goods. The schedule prescribes a new procedure to be followed by enforcement agents when seizing and selling goods pursuant to powers under High Court writs of execution, county court warrants of execution, certain magistrates’ court warrants of distress. The Schedule and regulations made under it will prescribe the entire process to be followed by enforcement agents when taking control of and selling goods from the serving of a notice, to taking control of goods, powers of entry, goods which may be seized, care of goods seized, the sale of goods seized and the distribution of the sale proceeds. Use of the Schedule 11 procedure will allow the landlord to enter the premises in order to take goods belonging to the tenant, then sell those goods and recover the rent arrears from the proceeds of sale. The procedure will not be available in respect of residential premises.

Department of Constitutional Affairs – Press Release

The Bill follows on from proposals previously made by the Law Commission and in the following consultation paper:

Enforcement Review Consultation Paper 5: Distress for Rent and Towards an Effective Enforcement A Single Piece of Bailiff Law and a Regulatory Structure for Enforcement.

Article: “The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill” by Iain Travers, Nabarro Nathanson – An examination of some of the more significant aspects of the proposed changes to the law of distress and whether these address the problems with the current law of distress as identified by the Law Commission in 1991. (Landlord and Tenant Review, Vol 10, Issue 6, November/December 2006, p 168)

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