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What is Lis Pendens?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The term “lis pendens” is Latin for “suit pending.” It is filed against a real property to indicate that the title of property is in question, or that some sort of lawsuit involving the property could occur in the near future. When someone files such a notice, it serves as a public notification that the property is involved in a lawsuit. For property buyers, this legal notice is generally viewed as a turnoff, as it could devalue the property, complicate the transfer of title, or make it impossible to obtain a mortgage on the property.

One of the most common reasons to file a lis pendens is when a property goes into foreclosure. If a lender feels that a foreclosure will be necessary, the notice forestalls any attempts to sell the property to evade the action, since the legal notice will turn up on a title search. One may also be filed if someone feels that he or she has a legal claim to a property title, or in any other circumstances where people want to question the validity of a property title.

A property can be sold with a lis pendens on file. The legal notice does not preclude sale or invalidate the title, although it can complicate the sale process. Most commonly, buyers choose not to purchase a property which is involved in a pending suit, or they are unable to secure a loan to buy the property because lenders are concerned about the outcome of the lawsuit. In the case of a foreclosed property, once the foreclosure is complete, the notice is canceled out.

As a general rule, it is good practice to avoid property that is entangled in litigation. Even if the property is lawfully purchased and this can be proved, the new property-owner may be dragged into the litigation as well, and the lawsuit could impede development of the property, resale, and other activities. Buyers are well within their rights to specify that the legal circumstances be resolved before purchase to protect themselves.

To file a notice of pending suit, someone must usually go to the office where the deed to the land is registered. The document is added to the file regarding the specific property, along with data about the sale history of the property and the history of property taxes. As a result, when anyone pulls up the deed, the lis pendens will also show up, alerting people to the existence of a potential lawsuit.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon331749 — On Apr 24, 2013

I am in Florida, how long after lis pendens do I have to move, get my stuff out of my home I have had for 16 years? I became disabled in a car wreck. I have no income, and am waiting on a disability.

By anon287073 — On Aug 23, 2012

@anon163923: Remember, each state is different, but for the sake of argument, in a judicial foreclosure a lis pendens must be filed with the clerk of courts and the mortgagee. This is a notice that there is a potential lawsuit going on with this property in question.

By anon163923 — On Mar 29, 2011

If a lis pendens is filed on a property that I am currently living in does that mean the property is in foreclosure? Should I still be paying the original owner rent?

By anon160650 — On Mar 16, 2011

Am curious as to reply to anon 67435. Have similar situation and trying to determine how to proceed/

By anon160649 — On Mar 16, 2011

what happens to a second mortgage when the business holding the mortgage becomes defunct?

By anon118320 — On Oct 13, 2010

I contracted to do work in a medical office six years ago. The contractor still owes me a considerable sum of money. The doctor doesn't feel he owes me the money, the contractor does. They won't give me a copy of the lien release that I allegedly signed. Can I get their attention with a threat of a lis pendens?

By tellmetheans — On Jun 27, 2010

I have received a Notice of Pending cancellation of lis pendens on my property, with a note from the lender's attorney telling me to sign it so it can be filed with the court clerk. The same notice says that I should also sign if I don't agree with the cancellation.

Is the lender's attorney trying to trick me into a weakened, vulnerable position because I am late in making my first mortgage payment as required by the loan modification agreement I signed?

By anon83812 — On May 12, 2010

can I counter sue a person who files a lis pendens on my property that is false? Person claims we do not own a piece of property even though it is on our deed, deed of trust, earnest money agreement and plat maps.

By anon77809 — On Apr 15, 2010

My homeowners association filed a lis pendens against my property for my grass not being redone. I was never served with any court papers. Is this legal?

By anon75078 — On Apr 05, 2010

i am in possession of a foreclosure notice that starts off with lis pending. i am currently leasing the property. is this legal to lease a house that is in foreclosure?

By anon67435 — On Feb 24, 2010

If a lis peddens is file on a property and the company goes out of business then what happens to the property.

By anon44740 — On Sep 10, 2009

What is the difference between Lis Pendens 08 Ch 2234 and Lis Pendens Notice of Foreclosure 09 CH 3664?

By jergensman — On Aug 05, 2009

How do I file a lis pendens?

By jergensman — On Aug 05, 2009

I am trying to puschase a property and have signed a contract with earnest money. Since then the seller will not contact me or explain what is going on. What are my options?

By anon30532 — On Apr 20, 2009

If there is a lis pendens filed on a property which eventually results in a judgment in favor of the party filing and a second mortgage was granted to the existing property owner after the lis pendens was filed, which lien position does the judgment take?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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