Select your state

Real property

lis pendens

A lis pendens is a pending lawsuit or legal action, or a formal notice of a pending lawsuit or legal action. For example, a lis pendens is an official public notice that a piece of real property has a pending lawsuit or claim attached to it—which may be especially relevant to potential buyers of the property, as a sale of the property will probably not extinguish or resolve the pending claim.

Lis pendens might also refer to the jurisdiction (power, authority, control) a court acquires over property while a legal action is pending. Or lis pendens may refer to a notice recorded in the public records (often county records) in the chain of title to a piece of real property—which is required or permitted in some jurisdictions to put all persons on notice that the property is the subject of litigation or of a claim. This notice informs potential buyers of the property that their future ownership of the property may be subject to other claims.

Lis pendens is often used when spouses are going through the divorce process and their real property assets, for example, have not been finally divided by their agreement or by the court. Banks commonly use the lis pendens process to put the public on notice that a property is in foreclosure. And a homeowners’ association may file a lis pendens when it seeks to foreclose on a homeowner’s home to satisfy delinquent fees or assessments.

The procedure for a lis pendens is usually located in a state’s statutes—often in the property code or in the code of civil procedure, for example.

In Texas, a lis pendens is a legal notice that a lawsuit involving a claim on a property has been filed, and it is recorded in the county's public records where the property is located. This notice serves to warn potential buyers or other interested parties that the property is subject to litigation, and any transfer of ownership could be affected by the outcome of the lawsuit. Texas law requires that a lis pendens must be filed with the county clerk to be effective. The Texas Property Code and the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure outline the specific requirements and effects of filing a lis pendens. For instance, during a divorce, one spouse may file a lis pendens to ensure that real property cannot be sold or encumbered until the division of assets is determined by the court. Similarly, banks may file a lis pendens to announce the initiation of foreclosure proceedings, and homeowners' associations might do so to alert the public about foreclosure actions for unpaid assessments. It is important for anyone dealing with property that has a lis pendens filed against it to consult with an attorney to understand the implications for property rights and transactions.

Legal articles related to this topic