Perhaps you have heard of a lis pendens in your property dealings but have only a vague understanding of what it is, or maybe you have just found out that a lis pendens has been attached to your property and you’re googling the term for the first time. In any case, one thing is for sure: having a lis pendens on your property can single-handedly derail any sale or refinancing you have on the horizon, and so you should take the proper steps to have the lis pendens removed as quickly as possible.
What is a Lis Pendens?
Defining a lis pendens is of course the first step in addressing it. A lis pendens is simply a notice to the world that there is a pending lawsuit related to a specific property, the outcome of which could affect the ownership of that property. Lis pendens occur in partition actions, eminent domain actions, quiet title actions, foreclosure proceedings, and other types of actions potentially affecting ownership. While the lis pendens does not say anything at all about the relative merit of the suit (and, indeed, many such suits are without merit), it can have an even worse effect than the lawsuit itself by scaring off sellers and lenders wary of whether there is a guarantee that you will actually own the property at the end of the dispute.
Removing the Lis Pendens
The process by which a lis pendens is removed is called “expungement” and whether expungement is available will be based on whether there is sufficient probability that the lawsuit will actually affect the ownership of the property.
There are two main legal strategies your attorney can pursue in having the lis pendens expunged, the first of which is to argue that, even if the claim underlying the lis pendens is successful, it will nevertheless not affect the ownership of the property, such that there is no reason for the lis pendens to be giving notice of a potential claim on the property.
The second strategy to pursue is to argue that, while the type of claim being pursued could affect ownership, there is not sufficient evidence supporting the notion that this particular claim would actually be successful. When your attorney makes this type of motion, both sides will be able to present evidence and arguments to the court, and the judge will make a preliminary determination of the potential merit of the plaintiff’s claim. While the judge will not necessarily make a final determination on the claim itself, if the judge determines there is not enough evidence to indicate the plaintiff has a reasonable chance of prevailing at trial, then the judge will remove the lis pendens, and may award the property holder with attorneys fees.
The process by which a lis pendens can be expunged can take a good amount of time based on the court’s scheduling, so contacting a real estate litigation attorney as soon as you have notice of lis pendens is advised to prevent unnecessary delay in addressing the lis pendens.
Work With an Experienced Los Angeles Boundary Dispute Attorney
Attorney Laine T. Wagenseller of Wagenseller Law Firm has published numerous articles on real estate law and works with individuals and businesses across Southern California in resolving real estate matters, including lis pendens matter. Contact Wagenseller Law Firm today to schedule a consultation on how to resolve a lis pendens on your property.