An abatement is a clause in a rental agreement that protects the tenant in case the property is uninhabitable. It allows the renter to pay prorated rent or not at all until they can live in the property. This clause must be included in the original lease terms or added later on and signed by both the tenant and the landlord.
If a rental property is damaged by no fault of the tenant and the tenant is unable to live in the property, an abatement allows the tenant to pay only partial rent or may exempt them from paying at all.
Such damages may be caused by a flood, fire, earthquake or other similar event and rent proration is dependent on the situation and the conditions specified in the rental contract. If only part of the property is damaged and the other part is safe to live in, there may be only a partial rent reduction. But if the entire property is uninhabitable, a tenant may be exempt from paying rent as they're unable to live in the rental.
An abatement doesn't always cover damage done to a tenant's personal belongings, so it's important to note that renters insurance and an abatement are not the same things. In case a tenant's belongings are damaged and ruined due to no fault of their own, they should still have renter's insurance to cover the cost of those items.
There's no limit on how long an abatement can last. It really depends on the situation and how long it takes for the property to become inhabitable. An abatement could last days, weeks or even months if it's deemed appropriate and aligns with the conditions in the lease agreement.