Real Estate Litigation: What is a “notice of lis pendens”?

 In Blog, Civil Litigation, Real Estate

Real property (a house, a parcel of land, etc.) is a common subject of litigation. Two children might fight over their parents’ house after the parents die. Neighbors might fight over a portion of land. Beneficiaries might dispute a will that leaves a family farm to someone outside the family. During this time there will often be some confusion over who does or should hold rightful title to the property.

A notice of lis pendens (pendency of action) is a document that can be recorded in the county where the property sits. It provides notice to third parties of the pending litigation and preserves the filer’s rights in the property pending the outcome of the case. Any party who takes an interest during that time takes it subject to the judgment of the court.

Who can record a notice of lis pendens?

The California Code of Civil Procedure allows a “party to an action who asserts a real property claim” to record such a notice. (Code Civ. Proc. §405.20). The person who records it is known as the “claimant.”

What is involved in a notice of lis pendens?

It must include the names of all parties involved in the lawsuit as well as a description of the property in dispute. It must be signed the claimant’s attorney. If the claimant has no attorney, the claimant must sign and it must be approved by a judge.

Prior to recording, it must be properly served on “all parties to whom the real property claim is adverse” and “all owners of record of the affected real property.” The proof of service must be recorded with the notice. A copy of the recorded notice and proofs of service must then be filed with the court.

How is a notice of lis pendens removed?

After the notice is recorded, any party (or nonparty with a claim to the real property) can ask the court to expunge the notice. The court will expunge a notice of lis pendens in a variety of situations, such as lack of a claim, improper service, or improper filing.

Similarly, the claimant may withdraw the notice by recording in the same county a notice of withdrawal of lis pendens, signed by the claimant and notarized.

The rules for filing, expunging, and withdrawing a notice of lis pendens are fairly specific and tedious. Your best bet is to consult with a qualified civil litigation attorney who can make sure everything gets done correctly.

Helix Law Firm can help with civil litigation

If you’re involved in litigation (such as real estate, personal injury, probate, etc.), Helix Law Firm can help. Civil litigation can be time consuming and complicated, and you are bound by the many procedural and court rules involved. We can help you sort through the mess and vigorously represent you in your case.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Helix can help, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.

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