What Are Absentee Landlords?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
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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.


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Post 3

Before I bought a house of my own, I had my share of absentee landlords. I always paid my rent at a local office, and if I had any maintenance problems, I called a property manager and he'd send someone out to fix it. Sometimes it was a general handyman, and sometimes it was a local professional. The repairs did get made, though.

I considered becoming a landlord myself, after my father died and left his house to me in his will. Since he lived in Ohio and I lived in Florida, I would have been an absentee landlord if I had wanted to rent the property. I looked into how to become a landlord, then decided it was going to be far more work than I wanted. I ended up putting the house on the market.

Post 2

I remember when Hurricane Katrina hit, and the relief agencies were trying to clean up the area. They discovered that a lot of property was actually owned by absentee landlords, and nothing could be done until those landlords were contacted personally. Uninhabitable homes couldn't be bulldozed all at once, since some out-of-state landlords wanted to take care of the problem themselves. The situation became even more of a mess.

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