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I have a court order against someone who owes me money. Can the court force the debtor to sell property to pay me?

I have a court order against someone who owes me money. Can the court force the debtor to sell property to pay me?
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Reviewed: 
February 23, 2017
Answer

The person who owes you money is called the debtor. Your court order says how much money you're owed. If the debtor isn’t giving you the money you’re owed, you may be able to force them to sell their property to pay you back. This is called getting a Writ of Seizure and Sale.

Two types of property may be seized:

  • personal property, such as motor vehicles, jewelry, or other things they own
  • land, also called real estate

Try other ways first

Seizing and selling personal property or land can be expensive. It's a good idea to try to enforce your judgment in other ways first.

You may not be able to seize and sell their property if the debtor:

  • doesn't have anything to sell
  • doesn't have enough equity in their land

Seizing personal property

If the debtor isn't paying you the money you’re entitled to from a court order, you can ask the enforcement office to take personal property that belongs to the debtor. This property can be sold, and the money will be used to pay you.

Enforcement offices are also called sheriff's offices. They can help you enforce your judgment from Small Claims Court. To find an enforcement office near you, look on the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General website.

If you don’t know what the debtor’s assets are, it's a good idea to first have an examination hearing.

Seizing Land

If the debtor owns land in an Ontario district or county, you can file a Writ of Seizure and Sale for that land.

A Writ of Seizure and Sale of Land makes it difficult for the person who owns the land to mortgage or sell their property until their debt is paid.

To find out if a debtor owns land, search land registration documents. You must pay to do this.

It's also a good idea to find out how much equity the debtor has in the land they own. Mortgages and other debts on the land reduce the amount of equity. The debtor should have provided this information during the examination hearing.

Filing for an extension

A Writ for Seizure and Sale expires 6 years after it's issued. This means that you have 6 years to collect your money by selling or taking the debtor’s property. If your Writ is about to expire and you haven't received the money owed to you, file for an extension. You should file for the extension before the Writ expires.

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