Abatement: Legal Definition & Types

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Abatement can have slightly different meanings and implications that depend on the situation. In this lesson, we'll examine the definition of abatement and explore how it could apply to a range of scenarios.


Have you ever lived somewhere where it was so noisy it was impossible to sleep? Or how about an apartment that was in such bad shape that it was dangerous to live there? Perhaps you've even had an instance where you expected to receive a certain amount of money from someone's will, but not enough money was available.

Hopefully, none of that's ever happened to you. But if you did have these kinds of issues, you might be able to take action thanks to a concept known as abatement.

In this lesson, you'll learn how that's the case as we go over two different ways of looking at abatement with numerous examples.

Abatement: Reduction & Removal

Abatement, in the context of law, may have more than one meaning. In this first one, abatement refers to a removal or reduction of something. This reduction could refer to one of several possible things, depending on circumstances.

For example, let's say that you live next to a factory that produces loud industrial noise hour after hour. Well, then a notice for abatement of nuisance (noise abatement) might be in order! The factory may have to utilize soundproofing and other forms of noise control, depending on the regulations in the area. In this context, abatement refers to the removal of a problem.

However, abatement can also refer to the reduction instead of outright removal of something. For instance, let's say that you claim that the apartment you live in is substandard or even uninhabitable. Perhaps the building's heating system isn't working in the middle of winter, or there's fire damage that wasn't your fault. An abatement in rent might occur as a result.

Abatement can also happen with respect to taxes. For example, the IRS might reduce a person's taxes or tax penalty if doing so helps recover some owed taxes without forcing that person into bankruptcy.

Remember how we mentioned wills near the beginning? Well, abatement can apply to wills too. Imagine that a relative wills $100,000 to you and $100,000 to your cousin. That's a total of $200,000, but suppose that, upon death, that relative only has $100,000 instead of $200,000 available. What are you and your cousin going to do? In this case, an abatement of a legacy could result in an equal reduction of benefits. You get $50,000, and your cousin gets $50,000 as well. While it's not ideal, this kind of abatement could help avoid conflict between beneficiaries (you and your cousin) of a will.

Abatement: Legal Proceedings

Other than a reduction or removal of something, abatement can also refer to a situation where a legal proceeding is interrupted, suspended, or closed before a final decision is made. There could be many reasons for this.

For instance, imagine that a person has been sued for libel (written defamation). The trial begins but, as it proceeds, the defendant passes away. In such a case, the court can move to end the trial before a final verdict is reached in some states. Similarly, the legal proceeding might abate by the death of the plaintiff as well.

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