A “notice of pendency of action,” also known as a “lis pendens” (Latin for “a suit pending”), is a written notice that a lawsuit has been filed that may affect either the title to, possession of, or a claimed ownership interest in real property. The notice is usually filed in the county Recorder’s office. Recording the notice alerts a potential purchaser or lender that the property’s title is in question, which can make the property less attractive to a buyer or lender.
A notice of pendency of action is available in actions involving “real property claims,” which are defined in California Code of Civil Procedure § 405.04 as “the cause or causes of action in a pleading which would, if meritorious, affect (a) title to, or the right to possession of, specific real property or (b) the use of an easement identified in the pleading, other than an easement obtained pursuant to statute by any regulated public utility.”
Unless otherwise specified, the notice must be recorded in the office of the Recorder of each county in which all or part of the property is situated. The notice must contain the names of all parties to the court action and a description of the property.
An attorney of record in an action may sign a notice of pendency of action. Alternatively, a judge of the court in which an action that includes a real property claim is pending may, on request of a party, approve a notice of pendency of action. Such a request is usually made in the form of an ex parte application. Both the notice and the ex parte application are routine legal documents that you can prepare yourself, with a little help from the law library, or a non-attorney legal document preparer can assist you.