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What is lis pendens?

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A lis pendens is a notice filed at a local clerk or record keeper's office to advise the public a lawsuit is pending against a piece of property, according to Nolo. Lis pendens is Latin for "suit pending," and the notice is typically a one- or two-page document that outlines a description of the property. This is typically done during foreclosure procedures.

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A lis pendens is used when the relief asked for directly relates to a piece of real estate, reports attorney Frank Brown, Jr. for The Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. Examples include lawsuits for cancellation of deeds, the establishment of title by adverse possession and real estate contract issues. Another instance includes when relief relating to the physical condition of real estate is sought, such as an owner of a piece of adjacent property asking for prevention of unlawful runoff onto his property. If a lawsuit seeks only monetary damages but does not request relief to the real estate, a lis pendens is not necessary.

A lis pendens cannot be filed without a lawsuit, because the actual definition of a lis pendens is it is a notice of a pending lawsuit. A lis pendens can tie up a piece of property for years, as courts do not usually strike a lis pendens unless a decision has been made in favor of the property owner, states Brown.

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