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Absentee landlords are people who own property, which is then leased to another individual, and live in a geographical region far removed from that property. This term is used in a number of contexts and can refer to both perfectly respectable practices and fairly unsavory renting situations, which has led to a rather negative connotation being associated with the term. There are also a number of economic issues associated with this type of arrangement, especially if the absentee landlords live in other countries than the land that is rented. The term has also been generalized for use in other contexts.
While there are a number of alternative uses for the term, absentee landlords are essentially individuals who rent out property that is far removed from where they live. In the US, for example, this can refer to a property owner who lives in a different state than the property he or she is renting. This type of situation has often led to occasions of negligence or abuse, as the landowner is so far removed from the property that he or she may not care for it properly. In other situations, however, absentee landlords provide excellent maintenance of property from afar, especially through the employment of a local property manager.
Absentee landlords can also have a negative economic impact on a region. This is because such landlords receive money from one area, but often invest it into the businesses and government of another area. This can be especially devastating if large areas of land in a country are owned by people living in other countries, as various goods and resources end up leaving the country. Absentee landlords have been responsible for dire effects on the economies of numerous countries over the past several centuries, including Ireland, often through the granting of land by foreign powers during colonial ventures.
An unfortunate number of absentee landlords have been purely greedy and self-interested individuals, causing many areas to pass laws that limit property negligence. In many countries and territories, government agencies can be appealed to for property inspections and enforcement of repairs or other maintenance by distant property owners. The idea of “absentee landlords” has also been expanded into a number of other fields as well. Certain religious movements, for example, include the concept of a deity who acts as an “absentee landlord,” in which the deity created the universe and everything in it, but otherwise is uninvolved with daily proceedings in the world.