In order to put a lis pendens on a southern California property, a suit has to be filed. Many interested in this type of action are surprised to hear this. They aren't aware that lis pendens actually means "Notice of Pending Action." It serves as a notice to the world that a lawsuit exists in relation to the title of the specified real estate property. The lis pendens is not a lien. It doesn't stop anyone from selling or obtaining financing secured by the property in question. What it does do is deter others from becoming involved in transactions relating to the property because it means that the property ownership is in question.
Some types of lawsuits permit a lis pendens while others require one. Lawsuits that actually require a lis pendens include: Forfeiture Proceedings, Partition, Eminent Domain, Actions Declaring a Building Uninhabitable, Quiet Title and Claims to Escheated Properties. It is also permitted in cases where an individual has a real property claim (i.e. mechanic's lien, foreclosure lawsuits, enforcement of easement rights, divorce, suits enforcing a real estate contract, etc.) The difficulty with filing a lis pendens is that doing so improperly can subject the filer to liability later. This makes it imperative that an experienced southern California real estate attorney is consulted prior to filing.
Lis pendens filings are governed by California Code of Civil Procedure (starting in Section 405). With a number of strict procedural requirements regarding the proper preparation, serving and recording of the lis pendens, the danger is not only that the property owner can file to have the "improper" lis pendens removed, but that they can also file to recover attorney's fees and costs from the filer for the costs associated with filing the motion to expunge lis pendens. In some cases, the owner may also be able to force you to post a bond in order to keep the lis pendens on record.
Any mistake made during the process of serving or filing of the lis pendens can serve as cause to expunge. This leaves the filer facing liability for additional costs. The most effective way to avoid the dangers of the lis pendens without walking away from your legal matters entirely is to make sure that you are working with an experienced real estate litigator.
If you have questions regarding the process of filing for lis pendens, please get in touch with one of the experienced real estate attorneys at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP. We can answer your questions and help you through the coming real estate litigation.