Abatement – definition and meaning

Abatement, when used in legal, business or financial situations, generally refers to the lessening, reduction, or ending of something – usually something undesirable or unpleasant. The verb – to abate – means to become less intense, as in: “The storm suddenly abated”.

Abatement of Debts and Legacies is a common law doctrine of wills that dictates that when the equitable assets of somebody who has died are not enough to satisfy all the creditors fully, their debts ‘must abate proportionally,’ i.e. they must accept a proportional amount of the deceased person’s estate, rather than expect to recover the total amount they are owed.

Tax abatement

Tax abatement, also known as a tax holiday, is the temporary elimination or reduction of tax. This often happens after a natural disaster such as a devastating earthquake, flood, hurricane, or volcanic eruption.

Property tax abatementThe property tax that owners pay on new construction, major improvements, or rehabilitation is reduced or eliminated.

Apart from trying to help people after natural disasters, it is sometimes introduced to encourage economic development.

In some cities, property tax abatement is offered to homeowners. Property taxes represent a significant expense to people who own their own homes. In the advanced economies, they typically represent between 1% and 3% of the property’s value each year.



By doing away with property taxes, some residents who had not qualified for a mortgage will have a better chance of being approved, while others will purchase larger properties. This type of temporary tax reduction/elimination also helps sell homes more quickly, and boosts activity in the construction industry.

The city manager and economic development director hope that the amount they forgo in property tax revenue will be compensated by economic growth caused by the tax break – when the economy grows overall tax revenues rise.

Rent abatementIf part of a property becomes damaged and uninhabitable, the tenant may qualify for a reduction or elimination of rent until the fault has been repaired. According to homeguides.sfgate.com: “To qualify for rent abatement on a leased property, the tenant can’t be at fault for the damage or destruction that occurred.”

According to Legal-Dictionary.theFreeDictionary.com, abatement is:

“A reduction, a decrease, or a diminution. The suspension or cessation, in whole or in part, of a continuing charge, such as rent.”

“In the context of taxation, an abatement is a decrease in the amount of tax imposed. Abatement of taxes relieves property of its share of the burdens of taxation after the assessment has been made and the levy of the tax has been accomplished.”



Abatement in commerce

In the world of business, the term may refer to a reduction in the amount a tenant has to pay for his or her rent.

In a business contract, if one of the parties does not meet a deadline, he or she could be liable to pay a penalty. In this context, the terms means a reduction in the amount of the penalty.

In business, abatement has to do with anything where the amount of money a party has to pay is reduced.

Asbestos AbatementBusinessDictionary.com has the following definition of asbestos abatement: “Procedures to control fiber release from asbestos containing material in a building by encapsulation, encasement, or removal.”

Abatement of action

In a legal proceeding, abatement is a suspension, the aim being to save time and expense. This may occur if the plaintiff’s suit cannot be maintained in the form he or she originally presented. The plaintiff is the person bringing the action against another in court. If after the temporary suspension, the plaintiff still cannot maintain the suit, the action is terminated.

Legal-Dictionary.theFreeDitionary.com, writes:

“Not every possible reason for dissatisfaction with another person can be heard by a court. When the old Common Law form of action governed the procedure followed by courts (as opposed to state and federal rules of procedure, which now do), only legal wrongs that fit exactly into one of the allowed categories could be pleaded in court.”

“If the defendant believed that the plaintiff’s complaint did not fit one of these forms, the defendant could respond with a plea in abatement. A plea in abatement was called a dilatory plea because it delayed the time when the court would reach the merits of the plaintiff’s claim, if ever.”

Penalty AbatementA penalty abatement is a reprieve from or a reduction in a penalty. The term is commonly used when talking about a tax, debt, or other financial penalty faced by an individual or commercial enterprise. It basically means either eliminating or reducing the punishment.

Asbestos Abatement: refers to procedures to control, eliminate or reduce fiber release from material that contains asbestos in a building by encasement, encapsulation, repair, enclosure, operations and maintenance programs, or removal.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word abatement in the English language emerged in the British Isles in the middle of the 14th century with the meaning ‘act or state of being decreased or mitigated’. It came from Old French Abatement, meaning ‘reduction, overthrowing’.

The Old French verb Abatre meant ‘reduce, strike down.’ In the 1520s, the noun assumed the legal sense of ‘destruction or removal of a nuisance, etc.’

Noise AbatementAccording to the OECD glossary of statistical terms: “Noise abatement is an activity to reduce the emission of noise or vibrations from a given source, or to protect persons and built—up structures from exposure to noise and vibrations.”

Video – Low-flying airplanes

Low-flying airplanes emit noise, which if not controlled can significantly undermine the quality of life of nearby residents. Noise abatement procedures are those that try to control noise pollution. Larry Enlow, an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector, talks about the central Florida area, which he calls the “Flight training capital of the world.”