Should I Be Worried About a Lis Pendens on My California Property?

Like many a latin legal phrase, people hearing about a lis pendens on their property are often confused as to whether to be terrified by the unknown phrase or to ignore it as a legalese phrase that has little meaning for their interests. The answer is often somewhere in the middle. The fact that a lis pendens has been placed on your property may actually mean nothing in the long-term for your interests, but it can mean serious short-term annoyance and threats to your interests – regardless of whether the person who placed the lis pendens has some cognizable legal claim against you or not – especially if you are attempting to sell or mortgage your property in the near future.

A Lis Pendens Means Someone is Making a Claim Against Your Property

It can be easy to confuse a lis pendens with a lien, given that they are similar sounding phrases and are both placed “on your property,” but they are quite different. While a lien is a security interest on your property such as a mortgage or attachment of a court judgment, a lis pendens is instead a notice to you and to any other potentially interested parties that there is a legal claim against and/or concerning your property. These legal actions can include:

    • Eminent domain actions (a government body attempting to take your property)
    • Partition actions (a co-owner attempting to divide the property)
    • Quiet title actions (another party claiming ownership of the property)
    • Foreclosure actions

What You Should Do About a Lis Pendens

The fact that a lis pendens has been placed on your property says nothing about whether the party who has filed the action will be successful in the action, but only that an action has been filed. Which brings up two questions: 1) Will the action be successful?, and 2) Even if there is no chance it will be successful, can a lis pendens hurt my interests?

In answering the first question, you should speak to a real estate litigation attorney who can learn about your situation and advise you accordingly on the merits of the action and what you should do in response.

But, as to the second question, even where there is little to no chance of the other party’s success in its action, the presence of a lis pendens can go a long way in scaring off potential buyers and/or lenders who are interested in purchasing the property and/or taking a security interests in it. After all, if there is a question about whether you actually will own a full or partial interest in the property either now or in the future, a buyer or lender will be justifiably cautious about moving further in any transaction.

Fighting to Remove a Lis Pendens

An experienced real estate litigation attorney, however, can work with you to act quickly in removing the lis pendens from your property based on a number of arguments, such as:

  • The suit does not actually affect your interest in the property
  • There is no merit to the suit
  • You were not properly served with notice of the lis pendens
  • Other errors were made by the opposing party

Taking decisive, quick action is often key to success in protecting yourself from a lis pendens on your property, so it is in your interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible after notice of a lis pendens.

Work With an Experienced Los Angeles Lis Pendens Attorney

At Wagenseller Law Firm in downtown Los Angeles, we provide full legal services to individuals and businesses in business and real estate litigation matters. Contact Wagenseller Law Firm today to schedule a consultation to discuss your lis pendens matter.