I often get calls from clients who are looking for a real estate lawyer to put a lis pendens on someone’s real property. I then explain to them that they must file a lawsuit to do this and they are surprised. A lis pendens literally means a “Notice of Pending Action.” In other words, it is a notice to the world that there is a lawsuit regarding title to that real estate. A lis pendens is not a lien and it cannot stop someone from selling or getting a loan secured by real property, however, it usually does effectively deter others from buying, selling or borrowing money because it means the ownership rights to that property are in question.
A lis pendens is permitted in some types of lawsuits and actually required in other types of actions. It is required in lawsuits for Partition, Eminent Domain, Quiet Title, Claims to Escheted Property, Forefeiture Proceedings, and Actions to Declare a Building Uninhabitable. It is permitted in other types of cases where someone has a real property claim such as mechanic’s lien foreclosure lawsuits, divorces, suits to enforce easement rights, and suits to specifically enforce a real estate contract. It is critical, however, to consult a real estate litigation lawyer who is familiar with these laws because you may subject yourself to liability later for improperly filing a lis pendens.