When I sat for the Florida bar exam in February 2011, a gentleman sitting next to me piped up after the first session and asked “what the hell is a lis pendens? I wrote ‘action pending’ because I had no idea what that was.”
Turns out, he was right!
When a homeowner is sued for foreclosure, there will be a document filed and recorded in the official records of the county called a notice of lis pendens. Lis pendens is just a latin term for “suit pending.”
The purpose of the lis pendens is to place prospective purchasers on notice that the property is subject to litigation. This is important because prospective purchasers need to be on notice that the property is in litigation because otherwise, they could end up buying a property subject to a foreclosure.
Typically, a property with a lis pendens recorded against it cannot be sold in a traditional sale, closed through a title company, because clean title cannot be passed to the buyer.
If a property owner believes that an illegal lis pendens has been brought against their property, the homeowner has a great deal of recourse. The homeowner can bring a Motion to Dissolve Lis Pendens and can even bring an action for slander of title.
If a case is filed with a lis pendens and the case is dismissed, the lis pendens is dissolved automatically by operation of law. See Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.420(f).
Ryan C. Torrens, Esq.
Consumer litigation attorney