Absentee owners of property tend to lack interest in the function which the property fulfils or could fulfil in the community within which it is located. They may also be indifferent to the problems of tenants or those dependent on the property in question. This may apply not only to owners of agricultural estates but also to owners of large industrial complexes, because they control prices and production although they are not themselves engaged in the work.
In many urban industrial communities, where only a small percentage of the population own their own homes, absentee land owners of residential properties assume little responsibility for property management and improvement, while residents do not see any means of assuming such responsibility. This is intensified by the occasions when, through tenant effort, improvements to property are made, only to have the landlords increase the rent beyond the tenants' capacity to pay. Complaints to management are foreseen as resulting in eviction proceedings. In many cases the land holders hide behind a screen of agents and false corporations, making residents' access to owners a major research task.
Absentee ownership has been a political and social issue for centuries, well-known examples being the court mobility in pre-revolutionary France and English landowners in 19th century Ireland.
In the USA two-thirds of land rented out is owned by absentee landlords. In Latin America up to 90% of large landowners are absentee. Today in Brazil, which has probably the most inequitable land ownership pattern in Latin America, fully 1% of the population possess over 45% of the land. But also in developed countries this is the case. A recent survey conducted in Scotland reveals that two-thirds of the privately owned land is held by just 1,000 people. These would represent one-fiftieth of one percent of the population, were it not that many are absentee landlords and therefore non-resident. They include English aristocrats, Arabian oil sheikhs, Swiss bankers, South African industrialists, racing car drivers, pop stars, arms dealers and others not noted for their socio ecological awareness. Their sole qualification to own Scotland is that they are rich.