What is a Lis Pendens and How Do You Expunge One?

What is a Lis Pendens?

A lis pendens is recorded by someone asserting a real property claim. It gives notice that a lawsuit has been filed which may, if that person prevails, affect title to or possession of the real property described in the notice. A lis pendens does not prevent the sale of the property affected by it. However, if an individual acquires the affected property or any interest therein with the lis pendens still attached, he or she will be bound by the judgment. Thus, a lis pendens effectively prevents the property’s sale or transfer until the litigation is resolved or until the lis pendens is expunged. (BGJ Assocs., LLC v. Super. Ct. of L.A. (1999) 75 Cal.App. 4th 952, 966-67.)

When Can Someone File a Lis Pendens?

A lis pendens may only be filed in an action that pleads a real property claim. Otherwise, the lis pendens may not be filed or, if filed, it may be expunged. California Code of Civil Procedure section 405.4 defines a “real property claim” as a cause of action which could potentially affect “title to, or the right to possession of, specific real property.” Accordingly, if a claimant is filing a lis pendens only to prevent the sale of the affected property or to secure the affected property as a potential source for a future judgment, the lis pendens is not proper. Additionally, the premature filing of a lis pendens may not be proper and can create liability for the person recording it.

How Can I Expunge a Lis Pendens?

While filing a lis pendens can be easy, getting it expunged is much harder. A motion to expunge a lis pendens can be brought after a lis pendens has been recorded. A party to the litigation, or a nonparty who has an interest in the affected property, may move for expungement. The grounds upon which a lis pendens may be expunged include the following:

  1. there is no real property claim in the action;

  2. the claimant cannot prove the probable validity of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence; or

  3. monetary relief is adequate, such as a bond.

If a lis pendens has been placed on your property, contact an attorney to see if you can get it expunged.

Disclaimer: This blog entry is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and Meeghan Henry Tirtasaputra. This blog entry should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.