Lis Pendens – Practical Applications In Washington State

The lis pendens is a document you can record to encumber the title of real property. Per Oscarsson of our firm previously drafted a good overview here:

Once a party records a lis pendens, the landowner cannot pass clear title to the property. This means a title insurance company cannot write a clear policy of title insurance with the lis pendens in place, and a regular commercial lender will not lend against the property. Note that a lis pendens can only be recorded in the context of a lawsuit.

When might you consider recording a lis pendens? Some examples include:

  • If you use a portion of your neighbor’s property and treat it like your own (possible Adverse Possession).
  • If you come and go across your neighbor’s property without a written easement (possible Prescriptive Easement).
  • If you co-own real estate with another person who is not your spouse, and you want to sell against that other person’s wishes (possible Partition).
  • If you bought property, but the deed went to someone else for any number of reasons (possible Resulting Trust).
  • If someone else acquired property, such as through fraud or other misconduct, and that property should be in your name in order to prevent unjustly enriching the title-holder (possible Constructive Trust).

The lis pendens can be especially effective and important if the deed owner of the property is trying to sell or refinance the property. That said, the party recording the lis pendens must be aware of the risks, as wrongful recordation can result in an obligation to pay an aggrieved owner’s attorney fees.

Please do not hesitate to call our firm directly if you have questions or concerns pertaining to real estate title issues, including issues implicating a lis pendens.

BERESFORD BOOTH PLLC has made this content available to the general public for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not intended to convey legal opinions or legal advice.