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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2174

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by the tenant or the owner of the goods distrained.[1] Any balance that remains from the sale should be left in the hands of the sheriff or under-sheriff of the county, or the constable of the place, for the owner's use.

Costs of distress.—The fees, charges and expenses of levying a distress are fixed by statute; and in case of any dispute, the amount charged may be taxed by the registrar of the County Court in the district in which the distress was levied.

Goods which may, or may not, be seized under a distress.—Distress may, subject to the exceptions given below, be levied upon any goods on the premises in respect to which the rent is payable, whether they belong to the tenant or other persons; but cannot be levied on goods elsewhere except by agreement, and except in cases where the tenant has fraudulently removed any of his goods for the purpose of avoiding distress.

Goods exempt from distress are:—I. Things affixed to the premises, e.g. a chimney-piece, or an anvil in a blacksmith's shop. 2. Goods delivered to the tenant in the way of his trade, e.g. a horse sent to be shod. A picture sent to an artist to be altered would not be protected, as an artist is not a trader. 3. Goods of a perishable nature, among which wine is not included. 4. Things in actual use, e.g. a horse that is being actuallyridden. 5. Loose money. 6. Wearing apparel, bedstead and bedding, and tools to the value of £5,[2] except where the tenant's term has expired, rent has been demanded, and distress made not less than seven days after such demand. 7. Goods belonging to a lodger, provided he has complied with certain requirements;[3] and 8. In cases where there are other goods of sufficient value and immediately available to answer the distress (excluding any goods belonging to a stranger, which the landlord may not choose to take), tools and implements of trade, not otherwise exempt as being within class 6 above. There are also other exemptions which are of an exceptional character or only affect agricultural holdings.

Fraudulent removal of goods by the tenant for the purpose of evading distress.—Where a tenant, after the rent becomes due (including the actual day it falls due), fraudulently, that is to say, with a view to evading distress, removes from the premises any of his goods which are liable to be distrained on, the landlord may within thirty days after such removal seize the goods wherever they are to be found, provided they have not before such seizure been sold bona fide and for value to any person not privy to such fraud. The tenant, and also any person assisting in the fraud, is liable to an action for double the value of the goods removed. The above provision does not apply where the goods are removed at the end of the tenancy.

Moreover, in the Metropolitan police district, any constable is empowered to stop and detain, until due inquiry can be made, all carts or carriages which he shall find employed in removing furniture from any house or lodging between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., or whenever he shall have good cause for believing that such removal is made for the purpose of evading payment of rent.

Illegal, Irregular or excessive distress by the landlord.—If the tenant complains that the distress was illegal or irregular, or was excessive that is to say, that more goods were seized than was reasonably necessary to satisfy the claim there are various remedies open to him; in resorting to which he should be careful to take legal advice at the earliest possible moment, as the procedure is technical and complicated. This statement, however, does not apply to the summary remedy given by statute to those persons within the Metropolitan police district who occupy any house or lodging by the week or month, at a rental not exceeding £5 a year. On complaint by such person to a magistrate, the magistrate may summon the person complained against to appear, and if satisfied that the distress was improperly taken, or unfairly

  1. That goods other than the tenant's may be seized, see below.
  2. For the summary remedy where such goods have, in fact, been distrained, see following page.
  3. As to which, see Lodgers.