A lis pendens (a.k.a. notice of pendency of action) is a document which is recorded against the title of real property to notify interested parties that litigation is pending which impacts the said property’s title. The lis pendens protects claimants by ensuring that their claim is fully attached to the property and that future interest holders take title subject to the claim, and protects future interest holders by warning them that the claim exists.

While it is common to record a lis pendens relative to a mechanic’s lien claim, doing so is currently not required. But on January 1, 2011 Civil Code section 3146 will be amended to make the recording of a lis pendens a mandatory element of enforcing a mechanic’s lien. Claimants will be required to record a lis pendens on or before 20 days after the filing of a mechanic’s lien foreclosure action.

While the new version of the statute does not explicitly state as such, its wording makes it clear that the failure to record the lis pendens will invalidate a mechanic’s lien claim. As such, to the extent they were not doing so already, mechanic’s lien claimants and their attorneys should add the recordation of a lis pendens to the check list of required steps to perfecting a lien.

Click here to see the full language of the modified version of the statute.