A Lis Pendens, also known as a “Notice of Pendency of Action” can be recorded on real estate through the County Recorder’s office. The purpose of a Lis Pendens is to provide “constructive notice” to a subsequent buyer, claimant, or anyone who has encumbered the real estate that there is a legal action that may affect title or possession of the real estate.
A Lis Pendens should be recorded immediately after filing a lawsuit that affects the title or possession of real estate. Prior to recording the Lis Pendens, a proof of service must be attached that shows that that the plaintiff has served the Lis Pendens by registered or certified mail all known parties that have an adverse interest in the property along with the title owner of the property. If you are not an attorney, a judge must approve that you can record a lis pendens on a property.
How Does a Lis Pendens Affect Title?
If there is a Lis Pendens recorded on a property, a title insurance company will not be able to insure title. This could hold up a sale and basically make a property unmarketable. Ultimately, because a Lis Pendens shows that a property is subject to a lawsuit that may affect title or possession, a seller would not be able to sell with clear title until the underlying lawsuit is resolved. If a buyer purchases a property with a properly recorded lis pendens, the buyer has “constructive notice” which may mean that the buyer could lose the property through the lawsuit if a plaintiff is successful at gaining title or possession. Therefore, a property with a lis pendens is difficult, if not impossible, to sell.
What types of lawsuits use a Lis Pendens?
Lis Pendens are used in quiet title actions but can also be used in lawsuits where title or possession of a property is in question. For example, a buyer of a property can file a lawsuit for specific performance and record a lis pendens when a seller refuses to sell under a real estate contract.
You should speak with an attorney prior to filing any action that would require a lis pendens or any action that could affect property rights. California law requires strict procedural requirements to record a Lis Pendens and for service of a summons and complaint for actions that affect title to real estate. Please contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio at (818) 839-5220 for more information.