Under the Texas Property Code, Chapter 12, Lis Pendens is a notice that a person may file with the County Court where a property is located in order to assert their claim to all or part of the title to that property. Essentially, it is a notice that there is some pending civil action in which the title to the property is in dispute. This dispute can involve either the enforcement of an encumbrance, such as an easement, or the actual establishment of an interest in the property itself.
Lis Pendens is NOT applicable to claims of a monetary interest in the property, such as a lien or suit involving money. Most commonly, Lis Pendens are used as a tactic by buyers in disputes regarding earnest money in order to disrupt the sale to the subsequent potential buyer. It should be noted that this is not only an incorrect use of Lis Pendens, but subjects the filer to fairly harsh penalties under Texas law.
The notice or affidavit constituting the Lis Pendens is only in effect for as long as the civil action it is a part of is pending, and is not a claim in and of itself. The Lis Pendens terminates as soon as the Court renders a verdict—The party will either have established or failed to establish their claim to the property.
Lis Pendens can hold up the sale of a property to an unrelated buyer. The Lis Pendens blurs the lines on title and makes any buyer hesitant to hand over money for title which may or may not be legitimate. Except in rare circumstances, the purchaser’s attorney will likely advise against the purchase while a Lis Pendens remains on the property.
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