A lis pendens is a notice that a lawsuit has been filed against real property which could affect that property’s title. The lis pendens notifies any potential buyer that there is a lawsuit involving a real property claim. This is important because a potential buyer with knowledge of the lis pendens will be bound by the court’s eventual judgment on the lawsuit.
According to California law, a lis pendens is filed if the party has a real property claim. (Code of Civil Procedure § 405.20.) A real property claim is a cause of action that would affect the title or possession to real property, or easement use. (Code of Civil Procedure § 405.4.) Until recently, one could not file a lis pendens based on a constructive trust theory, since constructive trusts were not considered real property claims. A new California appellate court decision, however, allowed lis pendens to be filed based on a constructive trust theory.