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In California a lis pendens is created when a Plaintiff in a lawsuit records a Notice of Pendency of Action against a Defendant’s real property. The recording of the lis pendens causes a lien to be placed against the property and generally prevents the owner of the property from selling or encumbering (borrowing against) the property until the lis pendens is terminated.
Not all lis pendens’, however, are necessarily proper or authorized. Sometimes a lis pendens is intended by a Plaintiff to put pressure on a Defendant to give money to the Plaintiff, but the Plaintiff was not authorized to record the lis pendens. Under these circumstances, there is a procedure in California to have the lis pendens removed. That procedure is referred to as a Motion to Expunge Lis Pendens. A Motion to Expunge Lis Pendens is an application to the Court in the lawsuit that the Plaintiff has filed to request that the Court force the lis pendens to be removed from the Defendant’s title on the property. Some situations in California in which a Defendant can successfully have a lis pendens expunged include when the subject lawsuit does not involve a real property claim, or when it is more likely than not that the Plaintiff will lose the lawsuit.
The recording of the lis pendens can be a very powerful tool for a Plaintiff. The recording of a lis pendens places a cloud on the Defendant’s title to the property and holds the property up until the lawsuit is resolved, and sometimes even longer. Thus, the recording of a lis pendens against the Defendant’s property can have a harsh or debilitating impact on the Defendant’s property. Therefore, the Motion to Expunge a Lis Pendens can be a very powerful tool for a Defendant whose property has been wrongfully hit with a lis pendens.
I regularly represent clients in real property lawsuits involving the recording of lis pendens as well as the expunging of lis pendens. If you have questions, or need representation by a California real estate lawyer in an action involving a real property claim or a lis pendens or the expungement of a lis pendens, please feel free to contact me to discuss your case or to arrange for a consultation at (510) 465-0025.