Squatting by necessity is in itself a political issue, therefore also a "statement" or rather a 'response' to the political system causing it.
In some cases, need-based and politically motivated squatting go hand in hand. Kesia Reeve, who specialises in housing research, "in the context of adverse housing circumstances, limited housing opportunity and frustrated expectations, squatters effectively remove themselves from and defy the norms of traditional channels of housing consumption and tenure power relations, bypassing the 'rules' of welfare provision." In many countries, squatting 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 favored the property owner.
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.
Anarchist Colin Ward comments: "Squatting is the oldest mode of tenure in the world, and we are all descended from squatters.
This is as true of the Queen [of the United Kingdom] with her 176,000 acres (710 km) as it is of the 54 percent of householders in Britain who are owner-occupiers. police official Sue Williams, for example, has stated that "Squatting is linked to Anti-Social Behaviour and can cause a great deal of nuisance and distress to local residents.
They are all the ultimate recipients of stolen land, for to regard our planet as a commodity offends every conceivable principle of natural rights." Others have a different view. In some cases there may also be criminal activities involved." The public attitude toward squatting varies, depending on legal aspects, socioeconomic conditions, and the type of housing occupied by squatters.
—that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use.
Author Robert Neuwirth suggested in 2004 that there were one billion squatters globally.
He forecasts there will be two billion by 2030 and three billion by 2050.
In many of the world's poorer countries, there are extensive slums or shanty towns, typically built on the edges of major cities and consisting almost entirely of self-constructed housing built without the landowner's permission.
While these settlements may, in time, grow to become both legalised and indistinguishable from normal residential neighbourhoods, they start off as squats with minimal basic infrastructure.
Thus, there is no sewage system, drinking water must be bought from vendors or carried from a nearby tap, and if there is electricity, it is stolen from a passing cable.
Besides being residences, some squats are used as social centres or host give-away shops, pirate radio stations or cafés.