Can a Creditor File a Lis Pendens on Your Florida Home?
Creditors are notoriously ruthless, and if you owe or have ever owed a creditor money, you know that they will stop at nothing to retrieve what is owed to them. Some creditors will even go so far as to use a lis pendens.
A lis pendens is a notice of a lawsuit that has been filed which concerns either the title to or interest in real property. Though the lis pendens is not the actual lawsuit, and though it cannot be used to prevent a property owner from selling or profiting off of a piece of real estate, it can effectively deter potential buyers and lenders, which is precisely why creditors use it. Once a lis pendens is placed on a debtor’s property, the debtor feels pressured to pay off his or her debt so that he or she can move forward with the sale or refinancing of the property.
Fortunately, lis pendens are not always appropriate, and the wrongful filing of a notice may have the reverse affect: the creditor may end up have to repay the debtor for damages wrongfully caused. If you have had a lis pendens placed on your property and you believe that it is not an appropriate tool in your situation, our Fort Lauderdale real estate attorneys at the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., may be able to help you remove the notice and collect compensation for damages caused by the wrongful action.
When a Lis Pendens is and is Not Appropriate
This type of notice may only be used when there is a connection between the real property and the original dispute between the creditor and debtor. For instance, if a debtor has thousands of dollars in outstanding credit card debt, the creditor may not use such a tool to coerce them to pay, as there is no connection between the unsecured debt and the notice. On the other hand, if a bank files a foreclosure notice on a home for mortgage payments that are past due, the bank, which is the creditor, may file a lis pendens, as there is a connection between the lawsuit (the foreclosure) and the notice. In this latter instance, such a tool would be appropriate.
What to do When a Lis Pendens Has Been Inappropriately Filed on Your Property
When you suspect that a creditor has inappropriately used this debt collection tool, you may file a civil suit against the creditor for any damages it has caused. In addition to the losses you accrued, the collector may also be forced to pay any attorney fees related to the notice. Additionally, the notice may be removed immediately so as to prevent further damages.
Of course, there are other ways that a creditor may inappropriately use a lis pendens and be liable for monetary losses. Florida Statutes Section 48.23(1)(a) outlines the requirements for filing a notice, one of which is that the notice can only be filed in nexus with an “action founded on a duly recorded instrument or on a lien claimed under part I of chapter 713.”
The best thing you can do if a lis pendens or any other restrictive legal tool is filed against you is to reach out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale real estate attorney. At the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., our attorneys can not only help you determine whether or not a lis pendens is appropriate and have it removed if not, but we can also help you recover compensation for losses caused by the motion. To learn more about your legal options, call our office today or schedule a consultation online.