Lis Pendens Real Estate Definition

When a party files an action affecting title to real property, it may file a notice of pendency of the action (also called a lis pendens) in the office of the county recorder. ( 405.20; Kirkeby v. Superior Court (2004) 33 Cal.4th 642, 647 (Kirkeby) "'A lis pendens is a recorded document giving constructive notice that an action has been filed affecting title or right to possession of the real property described in the notice.'".) After the notice is recorded, any party to the action may move to have it expunged. ( 405.30.) The court shall order the notice expunged if it finds the pleading on which the notice is based does not contain a real property claim. ( 405.31.) In addition, "the court shall order that the notice be expunged if the court finds that the claimant has not established by a preponderance of the evidence the probable validity of the real property claim." ( 405.32.) A "'real property claim'" is defined to mean "the cause or causes of action in a pleading which would, if meritorious, affect . . . title to, or the right to possession of, specific real property . . . ." ( 405.4.) A claim has probable validity if "it is more likely than not that the claimant will obtain a judgment against the defendant on the claim." ( 405.3.) The burden of proof on both issues (i.e., the existence of a real property claim and the probable validity of the claim) is on the lis pendens claimant, in this case, Zavieh. ( 405.1, 405.30; Howard S. Wright Construction Co. v. Superior Court (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 314, 319 (Howard S. Wright) "Unlike other motions, the burden is on the party opposing the motion to expunge--i.e., the claimant-plaintiff--to establish the probable validity of the underlying claim.".) An order expunging a notice of lis pendens is reviewable only by petition for writ of mandate. ( 405.39.) If the motion to expunge is brought under section 405.31 because the pleading on which the notice is based allegedly lacks a real property claim, the trial court "must engage in a demurrer-like analysis. 'Rather than analyzing whether the pleading states any claim at all, as on a general demurrer, the court must undertake the more limited analysis of whether the pleading states a real property claim.'" (Kirkeby, supra, 33 Cal.4th at pp. 647-648.) Our review of any resulting expungement order is limited to determining "whether a real property claim has been properly pled by the claimant." (Id. at p. 648.) If the moving party argues the claimant has failed to establish the probable validity of a real property claim under section 405.32, the "the plaintiff must 'at least establish a prima facie case. If the defendant makes an appearance, the court must then consider the relative merits of the positions of the respective parties and make a determination of the probable outcome of the litigation.'" (Howard S. Wright, supra, 106 Cal.App.4th at p. 319.) "On review of the trial court's ruling, the appellate court does not reweigh conflicting evidence or determine the credibility of witnesses. The reviewing court's task is simply to ensure that the trial court's factual determinations are supported by substantial evidence. . . . If, however, the material facts are not disputed, then the issue becomes a question of law for our de novo review. ." (Id. at p. 320.)