Lis pendens in Florida

What Is a Lis Pendens in Florida?

A lis pendens in Florida is a legal notice filed in public records indicating that a property is subject to a pending lawsuit that may affect its title or ownership. This notice warns potential buyers or financiers that the property is entangled in legal proceedings, which could impact its transferability or value.

Commonly associated with foreclosure proceedings, a lis pendens is an essential tool in real estate litigation in Florida, ensuring transparency and protecting the interests of all parties involved.

Key Takeaways

1. Warning to Potential Buyers and Financiers

A lis pendens alerts anyone interested in a property that an ongoing lawsuit could affect the property’s title, deterring potential buyers and lenders from becoming involved with the property until the legal issue is resolved.

2. Common in Foreclosure and Property Disputes

It is frequently used in foreclosure cases or disputes involving property ownership, easements, or boundaries. The filing of a Lis Pendens signifies the start of a legal process that could significantly impact the property’s status.

3. Essential for Protecting Claims

For plaintiffs in a real estate lawsuit, filing a Lis Pendens is crucial for protecting their claim. Without it, a property could be sold or further encumbered, complicating the legal proceedings and undermining the plaintiff’s case.

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Definition and Legal Basis

In Florida, the term “Lis Pendens” translates to “pending suit”. The concept is grounded in the Florida Statutes, specifically designed to provide public notice of pending real property litigation. This notice is crucial in a state where real estate transactions are frequent and can have significant financial implications.

Filing and Effects

To file a Lis Pendens, the party initiating the lawsuit (plaintiff) must record it in the county where the property is located. Once filed, it becomes a matter of public record, easily accessible to anyone conducting a title search. The effect of this notice is to place a “cloud” on the title, making it difficult to sell or refinance the property until the litigation is resolved or the Lis Pendens is removed or expired.

Duration and Removal

The duration of a Lis Pendens in Florida is generally tied to the active period of the lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is resolved, the Lis Pendens can be removed voluntarily by the filing party or by court order. If the lawsuit is dismissed, the Lis Pendens does not automatically vanish; a specific legal action is required to clear the title.

Implications for Real Estate Transactions

For real estate transactions, a Lis Pendens is a red flag. It indicates that legal questions about the property need to be resolved before a clear title can be assured. This can lead to delays or cancellation of sales and complications in obtaining financing.

Lis Pendens plays a vital role in real estate litigation in Florida, serving as a protective measure for litigants and a warning system for those dealing with property. Its impact on property transactions underscores the importance of understanding this legal tool for anyone in the Florida real estate market.

Gideon Alper

About the Author

I’m an attorney who specializes in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from Emory University Law School and have been practicing law for almost 15 years.

I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors. Before private practice, I represented the federal government while working for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.