In United States law, a “lis pendens” is a written notice that a lawsuit has been filed concerning real estate, involving either the title to the property or a claimed ownership interest in it. The notice is usually filed in the county land records office.
Recording a lis pendens against a piece of property alerts a potential purchaser or lender that the property’s title is in question, which makes the property less attractive to a buyer or lender. Once the notice is filed, the legal title of anyone who nevertheless purchases the land or property described in the notice is subject to the ultimate decision of the lawsuit.
Lis pendens is Latin for “suit pending“. This may refer to any pending lawsuit or to a specific situation with a public notice of litigation that has been recorded in the same location where the title of real property has been recorded. This notice secures a plaintiff’s claim on the property so that a sale, mortgage, or encumbrance of the property will not diminish plaintiff’s rights to the property, should the plaintiff prevail in its case. In some jurisdictions, when the notice is properly recorded, lis pendens is considered constructive notice to other litigants or other unrecorded or subordinate lienholders.
The recording office will record a lis pendens upon request of anyone who claims to be entitled to do so (e.g. because he has filed a lawsuit). If someone else with an interest in the property (e.g. the owner) believes it is not proper, he can then file suit to have it expunged.