From Academic Kids

(Redirected from Squatter)

This article is about occupying land without permission. For other uses of the terms "squat", "squatter", and "squatting", please see squat (disambiguation).

Squatting is the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building that the squatter does not own, rent, or otherwise have permission to use. Squatters often claim rights over the spaces they have squatted by virtue of occupation, rather than ownership; in this sense, squatting is similar to (and potentially a necessary condition of) adverse possession, by which a possessor of real property without title may eventually gain legal title to the real property. Squatting has a long history, as old or older than the idea of property itself. To squat in many countries is in itself a crime, in others it is only seen as a civil conflict between the owner and the occupants. Property law and the State have traditionally upheld the property owner. However, in many cases where squatters had de facto ownership, laws have been changed to legitimize their status. It is said that the United States Homestead Act is an example of such legislation. Additionally, states which have a shortage of housing tend to tolerate squatters in property awaiting redevelopment until the developer is ready to begin work; however, at that point the laws tend to be enforced.

In many of the world's poorer countries there are extensive slums or shanty towns, such as the favelas of Brazil, typically built on the edges of major cities and consisting almost entirely of self-constructed housing built on terrain seized and occupied illegally. Also common in many of these same countries are rural squatter movements such as (again taking a Brazilian example) the Landless Workers' Movement.

Besides places to live squats are often socially interesting places, hosting give-away shops, pirate radio stations, (often vegetarian or vegan) restaurants.



In Australian history, the term refers to early farmers who occupied huge tracts of largely undeveloped land on which they ran large numbers of sheep and cattle. Initially often having no legal rights to the land, they gained its usage by being the first (and often the only) Europeans in the area. It is known that many squatters fought battles with advanced European weapons against the local Aboriginal communities in the areas they occupied, though such battles were rarely investigated and modern historians resort to much guesswork in estimating the numbers of Aborigines killed in these skirmishes.

Whilst life was initially tough for the squatters, with their huge landholdings many of them became very wealthy and were often described as the "squattocracy". The descendants of these squatters often still own significant tracts of land in rural Australia, though most of the larger holdings have been broken up, or, in more isolated areas, have been sold to corporate interests.

Their iron grip on Australia's agricultural land was broken up in the 1860s with the passing of "selection acts" that allowed ex-miners from the 1850s gold rush to claim areas of farmland at no cost. Whilst squatters tried tactics legal and illegal to discourage "the selectors" (for instance, taking out selections of their own which covered vital land such as watercourses) eventually wider settlement took place and smaller farms (though still huge by European and even U.S. standards) became the norm in more fertile parts of Australia.

The power of the squatters, including their affinity with the police, is alluded to in "Waltzing Matilda", Australia's archetypal folksong.

Of late, the term's meaning in Australia has come to be the same as that of the English/Welsh usage.

United Kingdom

In England and Wales, squatting usually refers to occupying an empty house in a city. The owner of the house must go through various legal proceedings before evicting squatters. The owner must prove that they have a right to live in the property and that the squatter does not, and the squatter has the opportunity to claim there isn't sufficient proof or that the proper notice hasn't been given.

Some properties are still occupied by squatters who have resisted eviction for 20 years.

Squatters have a right to claim ownership of a dwelling after 12 years of having lived there if no one else claims it.

Some famous squats

See also; Squatter's rights, squat party, cybersquatting

External links

de:Hausbesetzung es:Movimiento okupa fr:Squat nl:Kraken (pand) pl:Squat


  • Survival Without Rent (http://www.habiter-autrement.org/07.squat/02_sq.htm) a NYC how to guide originally published in 1986 and reprinted in 1989 published by The Shadow Press (http://mediafilter.org/shadow/).
  • War In The Neighborhood – a Graphic Novel about squatting on New York City's Lower East Side in the 1980's by World War 3 Illustrated artist and editor Seth Tobocman published by Autonomedia (http://www.autonomedia.org/).
  • No Trespassing! An international study of squatting and land takeovers by Anders Corr published by South End Press
  • 949 Market - a 2002 zine by a group of people who squatted an abandoned pool hall in a very public way and created a community center in San Francisco. $2-3 cash to: Lara, 3288 21st St. PMB #79, San Francisco, CA 94110
  • Cracking the Movement (http://thing.desk.nl/bilwet/Cracking/contents.html) a history of Amsterdam squatters published by Autonomedia (http://www.autonomedia.org/).

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