What Happens After a Lis Pendens is Filed
Lis pendens, Latin for “suit pending,” is a notice that a lawsuit was filed in regard to land or property. It is typically filed in cases of ownership dispute. The purpose of the lis pendens can be for a party to protect its claim on a property and make it difficult to sell the property. It can also indicate the beginning of the foreclosure process.
There are several reasons to file a lis pendens in Florida. Primarily, it involves a dispute in ownership interest, especially in divorce cases or contesting wills. But a lis pendens can also be filed because of title changes on a property, delinquent mortgage or property tax payments, or unsafe conditions and property damages.
Once a lis pendens is filed, notice is officially recorded in the property’s county. This makes the buying and selling of the property in question much more difficult, with many hurdles added to the process. This is mostly because buyers will avoid any house with disputes against the property or a cloud on the title. When a lis pendens is in place, purchasers are made aware that someone else has claims on the property. This will discourage most offers.
Additionally, judgments made after the filing of the lis pendens are granted a lower priority than judgments at the time of the lis pendens. The lis pendens can be used as a form of leverage to force resolutions. This is especially true when an owner can’t afford litigation fees without selling the property.
Can a lis pendens be abused?
A lis pendens can absolutely be abused. One example is when a creditor pursuing a debt files a lis pendens when there is no actual connection between the debt and the property. Other times an individual can target a property and file a lis pendens to create all the troubles that a clouded title brings. In any case of abuse, if the claim is proved not valid, the filer can be charged fees, be held liable for any damages caused and accused of slander against title.
How do you get rid of a lis pendens?
The lis pendens can be settled in or out of court. In court, the lawsuit must be settled and the court will rule on an outcome. Out of court, an agreement can be settled against the title owner and the filer of the suit. In Florida, a lis pendens will expire after 1 year if no action has been taken. To officially remove a lis pendens it must be expunged or withdrawn and this must be recorded according to state and local requirements.