Lis Pendens

What is the Purpose of a Lis Pendens?

Updated on February 28, 2024

What is Lis Pendens in California Real Estate?

Lis pendens is a Latin term that translates to “lawsuit pending.” In real estate law, it refers to a notice filed in public records to alert potential buyers or lenders that a property is subject to a legal claim or dispute. This notice serves to inform interested parties of the ongoing legal proceedings involving the property. Understanding lis pendens involves delving into its purpose, when it is used, and the process of filing one, particularly in the context of California real estate law.

Purpose of Lis Pendens:

Lis pendens serves several important purposes:

  • Notice to Potential Buyers and Lenders: By filing a lis pendens, parties involved in a real estate dispute notify prospective buyers or lenders that there is a pending legal action affecting the property. This helps prevent unsuspecting third parties from purchasing or financing the property without knowledge of the ongoing litigation.
  • Preservation of Rights: Lis pendens helps preserve the rights of parties involved in the dispute by establishing priority over subsequent claims or interests in the property. It effectively puts the world on notice that any transfer of the property may be subject to the outcome of the pending legal action.
  • Encouraging Settlement: The existence of a lis pendens can also incentivize parties to the dispute to negotiate a settlement, as it may complicate or impede future transactions involving the property.
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What is the Purpose of a Lis Pendens?

When Lis Pendens Is Used:

Lis pendens is typically used in various real estate disputes, including but not limited to:

  • Foreclosure Actions: When a property owner is facing foreclosure, they may file a lis pendens to contest the foreclosure or seek other remedies through litigation.
  • Boundary Disputes: In cases where there is a disagreement over property boundaries or ownership rights, parties may file a lis pendens to assert their claim to the property.
  • Quiet Title Actions: A lis pendens may be filed in conjunction with a quiet title action, which aims to establish clear ownership of a property when there are competing claims or uncertainties regarding title.
  • Contract Disputes: When disputes arise concerning the terms of a real estate contract, such as a purchase agreement or lease, parties may file a lis pendens to protect their interests during the legal proceedings.

Filing a Lis Pendens in California:

In California, the process of filing a lis pendens involves several steps:

  1. Prepare the Document: The party initiating the legal action (plaintiff) or their attorney prepares the lis pendens document. The document typically includes information such as the names of the parties involved, a description of the property, a brief statement of the legal action, and the court where the action is pending.
  2. Record the Lis Pendens: The prepared lis pendens document is then filed or recorded with the county recorder’s office in the county where the property is located. California law requires strict compliance with statutory requirements for recording lis pendens to ensure its validity and effectiveness.
  3. Serve Notice: After recording the lis pendens, the party filing it must serve a copy of the document on all other parties involved in the legal action, as well as any other parties with an interest in the property, such as potential buyers or lenders.
  4. Comply with Time Limits: In California, there are specific time limits for serving and recording a lis pendens, as well as requirements for renewing or canceling the notice. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in the lis pendens being expunged or invalidated.
  5. Follow Legal Procedures: It’s essential to follow all legal procedures and requirements when filing a lis pendens in California to ensure its validity and effectiveness. This may include seeking guidance from an experienced real estate attorney familiar with California’s lis pendens laws and procedures.
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Conclusion: Lis Pendens Purpose

Lis pendens plays a vital role in real estate transactions by providing notice of pending legal actions that may affect the title or ownership of a property. Understanding its purpose, when it is used, and the process of filing one, particularly in California, is crucial for parties involved in real estate disputes. By complying with legal requirements and procedures, parties can effectively assert their rights and protect their interests in real property through the use of lis pendens. 

While the purpose of a lis pendens could be described simply, understanding your rights when faced with one can be complicated. The attorneys at Schorr Law have years of experience to providing counsel and have taken many disputes to trial. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our top los angeles real estate attorneys. Call us at 310-954-1877, or send us a message here.