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How to File Lis Pendens California

How to File Lis Pendens in California

A lis pendens, meaning “pending lawsuit” in Latin, is a notice filed with the county recorder’s office to notify potential buyers or lenders that a property is subject to a legal dispute. In California, filing a lis pendens is an essential step in protecting your legal rights and interests in a real estate dispute. This article will guide you through the process of filing a lis pendens in California and answer some frequently asked questions.

1. Understand the Purpose of Filing a Lis Pendens

Before filing a lis pendens, it is crucial to understand its purpose. By filing this notice, you are alerting potential buyers, lenders, and other interested parties that a lawsuit involving the property is pending. This helps prevent any further transactions or encumbrances on the property until the dispute is resolved.

2. Determine Whether You Have Grounds to File a Lis Pendens

To file a lis pendens in California, you must have a valid legal claim or interest in the property. Common scenarios that may warrant a lis pendens filing include foreclosure actions, boundary disputes, quiet title actions, or any other real estate litigation where the outcome could affect the property’s ownership or title.

3. Prepare the Lis Pendens Document

To initiate the process, you need to prepare the lis pendens document. This document should contain specific information, including:

– The name of the court where the lawsuit is pending;
– The case number;
– The names of the parties involved in the lawsuit;
– A description of the property affected by the dispute, including its legal description and street address;
– A brief statement outlining the nature of the claim or lawsuit.

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4. Notarize the Lis Pendens Document

Once you have completed the lis pendens document, it must be notarized. Visit a notary public to have the document officially notarized. This step is crucial, as an unnotarized lis pendens may be considered invalid.

5. File the Lis Pendens with the County Recorder’s Office

After notarization, you must file the lis pendens with the county recorder’s office in the county where the property is located. Along with the document, you will need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county. Ensure you have the correct fee amount, as some county recorder’s offices only accept cash or checks.

6. Serve the Lis Pendens on All Interested Parties

After filing the lis pendens, you must serve it on all parties with an interest in the property. This includes property owners, tenants, lenders, and any other individuals or entities who may have a stake in the dispute. Service can be accomplished through personal delivery, certified mail, or other acceptable methods of service outlined in California law.

7. Record a Notice of Action or a Notice of Pending Action

In addition to filing a lis pendens, you may need to record a Notice of Action or a Notice of Pending Action. These additional documents provide more detailed information about the lawsuit and are often required in specific types of real estate litigation. Consult with an attorney to determine if these additional filings are necessary for your case.


Q: Can I file a lis pendens without an attorney?

A: Yes, you can file a lis pendens without an attorney. However, it is advisable to consult with an attorney to ensure that you are filing the proper documents correctly.

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Q: How long does a lis pendens last in California?

A: In California, a lis pendens generally remains in effect until the lawsuit is resolved or the court orders its cancellation.

Q: Can I remove a lis pendens once it is filed?

A: Yes, a lis pendens can be removed if the lawsuit is dismissed, settled, or the court orders its cancellation. You may need to file a notice of withdrawal or a release of lis pendens to remove it from the property’s title.

Q: What happens if I file a lis pendens without a valid claim?

A: Filing a lis pendens without a valid claim may expose you to legal consequences, including claims for slander of title or improper interference with the property’s marketability. It is essential to have a legitimate legal claim before filing a lis pendens.

Filing a lis pendens in California is an important step in protecting your rights and interests in a real estate dispute. However, the process can be complex, and it is crucial to consult with an attorney to ensure you are following the proper procedures. By understanding the purpose of a lis pendens and the necessary steps involved, you can navigate this process more effectively and safeguard your legal position.

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