[EN] What is a “Good” Squatter? Categorization processes of squats by government officials in France

A chapter from Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles

What is a “Good” Squatter?
Categorization processes of squats by government officials in France

* This article is a revised and updated version of an article published in the journal Déviance et Société in
2010 as “Le squatteur, le policier, le juge et le préfet: procédures en actes et classements ad hoc”.

Florence Bouillon

A number of important laws favouring the right to housing
have been adopted in France in the last three decades. A respite from
expulsions during winter (15 November to 1 March), grace periods,
financial support, social accompaniment and re-housing of tenants in
case of expulsion (1998 law against eviction) are some significant mea-
sures characterizing these evolutions. Clearly, the right to housing has
progressed. Though the problem of bad housing is far from resolved
in the absence of an adequately ambitious social housing policy, these
laws testify to a consensus of society and politics on the importance that
must be given to the problematics of exclusion from “decent” housing
in France today.

Yet, it is remarkable that all these measures contain restrictive clauses
concerning squatters. If they confer rights on holders of lease agree-
ments, it is left to judges to decide when the occupants have “actually”
occupied the space. Evidently, the legislator concerned with respect-
ing private property did not wish to grant the occupant “without right
or title” the same security as a tenant. How does the magistrate then
decide whether or not to apply the laws for advantages in housing to
illegal occupants of empty houses?

A first glance at the decisions of French courts relating to squat-
ters shows that squats are evicted mechanically. Indeed, in 96.4% cases
(CERCRID [Centre de Recherches Critiques Sur Le Droit], 2003) judges
accept demands for the expulsion of squatters and travellers installed
on lands without amenities. This reading of the litigation of squats is
found to be partly contradicted by ethnographic investigations made
in Marseilles squats between 1998 and 2005. This inquiry consisted
of a long-term direct observation conducted within fifteen squat areas.
During these stays, several narratives of expulsion were assembled and
police interventions in the squats were directly observed. Furthermore,
18 interviews on eviction procedures were conducted with squatters, a
lawyer, a judge in chambers and several policemen. Finally, I had access
to some thirty judicial files relating to squats. I also assisted in the hear-
ings in seven cases.

All this evidence allowed me to complete and nuance the statistical
data (on the quasi-styematic expulsion of squatters) and update the
diverse modalities of intervention in squats. In fact, even before an evic-
tion procedure came to my notice, a significant part of the squats were
subject to expulsion by the police. Statistics cannot take them all into
account and moreover, they say nothing of the respite the judge can
award occupants. Finally the decision of expulsion does not imply that
it is always effective, the prefect must order of the police force to carry
out the eviction, which is not always the case.

It is clear from these few observations that where the technical and
mechanical application of the “spirit of the law” is presumed, we are
in fact confronted with a “game”. The question that then comes up is
twofold: what are the precise outlines of this margin of maneuver and
how do government officials use it?
In order to answer these questions, I posit that law is a social activ-
ity (Weber, 1986) and as such, it constructs itself (Latour, 2002). In
other words, it produces and transforms itself at each moment of its
elaboration and application. From this perspective, law is a shifting, un-
stable subject that leads to a systematic work of interpretation by those
who are in charge of writing as well as applying it. I will therefore see
with a sociologist’s gaze, with the intention of being empirical (ethno-
graphic) and focused on the practices of the production of normativity
(Dupret, Ferrié, 2004, 355), to advance the following hypothesis: the
squat is a place of normative tension, which in order to be resolved
requires a work of categorisation by different institutional actors in-
volved. The procedures of classification and categories of judgment mo-
bilized is henceforth the object of investigation.

The squat in the law’s eyes

Before considering government officials’ practices on squats,
the legal framework of their action must be specified. Two important
qualifications are laid down by the French legislature. The first strictly
separates people who enjoy rental lease even if it is no longer binding,
from those who never signed one. It must be mentioned straightaway
that only the holders of a lease explicitly enjoy the measures favour-
ing housing rights and especially those protecting occupants from ex-
pulsion. Others form the big category of “occupants without rights or
titles”, and the application of these measures depends on how govern-
ment officials judge the situation.

This first distinction having been established, a second one must
be made within ‘occupation without rights or title” between contrac-
tual situations (official housing, use on loan, precarious conventions
of occupation…) and non-contractual (squatters, occupants of uncon-
structed land, strikers and demonstrators who occupy a premises or a
public space). The existence of a contract, even if properly speaking
it is not a lease, gives rights, particularly the right to stay on in the
places. Squatters are, along with Roma [gypsies], amongst the least pro-
tected of all inhabitants. Be as it may, a squat does not constitute an
offence in France. As civil litigation, it falls under the jurisdiction of
the magistrate’s court. Apart from smash and grab or break-in, which
are difficult to establish, squatters therefore risk “only” eviction. So that
this eviction can take place, a juridical procedure is necessary a priori:
according to article 61 of the 9 July 1991 law, except in a special ar-
rangement, expulsion or eviction from a building cannot be pursued
except by a court decision or minutes of conciliation and after orders
to quit the premises. Yet, sometimes, for several reasons, squatters leave
before any procedure is undertaken: they ignore its existence, they do
not wish to have dealings with the law, they don’t intend to remain in
this building, they suffer from forms of intimidation from the landlord,
neighbours or police…indeed, as the cases described here will show, the
squat is the object of immediate eviction by police officers. Three actors
thus play a crucial role in the expulsion of squatters: the police officer
(by evicting forcibly or not), the judge (by allocating a grace period or
not) and the prefect (by lending the support of the police or not). On
what grounds do these government officials decide the destiny of habi-
tants and determine the different treatments observed?

Tensions of police judgements

According to former squatters who were questioned, evictions from
squats by “strongmen” commissioned by landlords are less frequent in
France today than some twenty years ago. With the institution of laws
favouring the right to housing, tolerance of such evictions has dimin-
ished. A visit of Internet sites on defence of landlords rights also indi-
cates that they are at present informed of the risks they run in case of
“violent” evictions. If today armed expulsions by landlords or even in
certain cases by exasperated neighbours, have not entirely disappeared,
expulsions taking place without procedure and by force are above all
carried out by police officers.

In which case can the police then evacuate a squat without waiting
for the judge’s decision? In other words, what does the “special arrange-
ment” mentioned in the 9 July 1991 law empirically cover? The most
frequent response to this question, from police officers as well as squat-
ters, refers to the “48 hour rule” of occupation. Over and above this
period, the procedure is not compulsory and the prosecutor or police
officer can decide to terminate the occupation. This rule, which is not
registered as such in the texts, corresponds to the somewhat vague no-
tion of being caught red-handed (flagrant délit). According to article
53 of the penal procedure code, ‘flagrant délit’ is defined as a misde-
meanour actually being committed or having just been committed. It
is therefore first of all correlated to a notion of time. But this time is
more flexible than the 48-hour rule would imply. Police officers must
in fact carry out an interpretive work that consists of defining the oc-
cupation. Are the inhabitants already living in the squatted place and
does the place or its occupants present some kind of danger? When
they are notified of the opening of a squat (the information comes in
most cases from the neighbours), police officers estimate the situation
both from a visual and discursive point of view: whilst police officers
try to penetrate inside a squat, something that is difficult to do if the in-
habitants are reluctant, they simultaneously proceed to investigate the
neighbourhood in order to identify the duration of the life of a squat
and characterize its occupants. The assessment of a squat is oriented by
the search for “traces” of habitation, which determine the possibility
and relevance of an immediate intervention.

More precisely, in addition to the elapsed occupation time, the evic-
tion depends upon a general interpretation of the situation. My obser-
vations considered four aspects: the presence of a violation (offence by
entering the place, illegal electric connection…), the social difficulties
apparently encountered by the occupants, the pressure exercised by the
neighbourhood and/or the landlord for expulsion and the supposedly
criminal character of activities conducted in the squat (consumption
of drugs, etc.). Finally, the nature of the occupation must be decided
in order to determine the correct attitude: if the question is of a settled
home and if the occupants have not been guilty of any other offence,
then the squat is transformed into a “residence” and the police forces
should not intervene. On the other hand, if the squat is not yet lived in,
or if it constitutes an acknowledged danger, then police intervention
must be instantaneous.

But the field inquiry revealed other possibilities within the scope of
police intervention, which more or less respect this legal framework.
Indeed, in the eyes of some police units, and in some cases, forcible
evictions take place on the borders of the law. As one of the policemen
interviewed explained, if the “families” benefit from the advantages of
eviction within a legal framework, people seen as “marginals” are likely
to be evicted at all costs: “more or less legal subterfuges to intervene”
are then found. In Marseilles, the field inquiry showed that squats oc-
cupied by “young strays”, mainly isolated adolescents without papers
from Maghreb, are evicted in this manner. Suspected of delinquency
and generating a strong feeling of insecurity amongst neighbours, these
adolescents do not have any means of opposing the police (no knowl-
edge of French or of legislation and lacking external support, etc.). The
squats they occupy have the shortest life expectancy, at best from a few
days to some weeks. Squats occupied by the Roma, currently victims
of ostracism in France, are sometimes also evicted without any legal

If police activity is, here as elsewhere, framed by the law, law enforce-
ment consequently falls on the borderline of legality. Police inquiry in
the squats aims at distinguishing a “residence” squat from a “public
order problem” squat. Thus, the squat is certainly typical of the police
mission’s dual nature as identified by Dominique Monjardet (1996). It
consists of both “applying the law” and “using force”. It remains to be
known how the judgment of police officers is constructed and the na-
ture of the evidence arousing their suspicion or their compassion. The
protective power of the “family” was mentioned, but it can be offset
by the great disqualification of groups like Romas. Besides, my inquiry
shows the strong indexing of police controls according to the physical
appearance of people (sex, age, clothing style, skin colour), which influ-
ence police controls in France (Jobard, Lévy, 2009). Thus, more than
facts, a set of “representations” related to the more or less assumed huge
deviancy of squat inhabitants operate as discriminatory factors in police
activity amongst occupants who have neither rights nor titles.

Judges face to face with squatters:
to be (or not to be) of “good faith”

Because some inhabitants of squats are spotted too early and/or be-
cause they are not perceived as legitimate inhabitants, they do not ben-
efit from the legal procedure before eviction. For various reasons, many
will leave on their own account without waiting for this procedure.
This could be due to ignorance (of legal protection offered by the pro-
cedure), intimidation (exercised by the landlord, neighbours, police)
or mobility (departure for another city, asylum in another accommo-
dation…). Only a section of the inhabitants of squats who cannot be
quantified precisely will therefore appear before a judge and the prefect.
Most often, in more than 75% of squat cases (CERCRID, 2003)
squatters are judged by a court hearing, “accelerated procedure” or
“emergency”. It has been noted that the judge nearly always pronounces
eviction from a squat: consequently, granting or refusing a respite is the
principal stake in a court hearing.

The construction and housing code authorizes the judge to grant
respites extending from 3 months to 3 years, whatever the status of
the occupant. Amongst the decisions examined by CERCRID, such a
respite is granted to squatters only in 6,5% of the cases (CERCRID,
2003: 80). Therefore, it goes without saying that most often, when
confronted with a squat situation, the judge evicts without any other
kind of consideration. From the judges’ perspective, who are the (rare)
“legitimate” squatters?

My field inquiry and more specifically the motivations behind judg-
es’ decisions as revealed by the files examined, show that judges grant
respites to squatters on grounds that suit the two involved parties. As
far as the landlord is concerned, three elements are decisive: first, the
status and position of the landlord of the occupied building, because
the loss suffered by a physical body (small private landlord) is estimated
to be more important than the loss experienced in the same situation by
a legal entity (such as a society or public person such as a collectivity).
On the other hand, the length of time during which the building was
vacant before being occupied is evoked, because it reflects a more or
less advanced state of abandonment. Finally, as an extension of this sec-
ond element, the judge is attentive to the landlord’s real interest in his
property: the latter should be proved with material evidence (minutes
of public meetings, estimates of building firms, etc), that the building
is the object of current or future projects.

Thus, lively debates sometimes take place between the landlord of a
premises and its occupants, the former trying to demonstrate that the
building will be soon restored, accommodate tenants or sold, whereas
the latter will on the contrary attempt to prove that the projects ad-
vanced are fictional or circumstantial. Without generalizing all situ-
ations of squatting, it could be said that in Marseilles, from 1999 to
2005, out of twenty odd evictions from premises, about half underwent
repairs and were occupied. The rest remained in the same state, that is
to say empty and run down.

When the judge thinks in terms of content his decision cuts across
these considerations and those of squatters. The question is to find a
“right balance” between the landlord’s constitutional and inalienable
law to his property and the social and sanitary situation of squatters.
As far as the latter are concerned, the defence lawyer’s primary aim is
to convince the judge that squatters are in real material difficulty. He
must prove that even if they have no rights or titles, they are driven to
occupying the premises. They are not usurpers but “truly poor”. The
occupants’ modest incomes are then displayed along with the lack of
regular work and “the state of necessity” in which they find themselves.
It is also recommended that occupants be shown to have taken other
steps to find accommodation. The judge will be all the more indulgent
if the occupants have exhausted all legal solutions and in particular, pre-
sented files to HLM offices whose certificates and file numbers will be
produced. Above all, these arguments aim to testify the squatters’ good
faith, that is to say, their real desire to acquire legality.

Having proved that they are “genuine” poor, squatters and their law-
yers have to demonstrate that they are also “good” poor. Groups, par-
ticularly youngsters are very quickly designated as “bands” and arouse
strong suspicion. On the other hand, the squat is commonly considered
an anarchic, anomic place where immorality reigns. Consequently, the
squatters’ lawyer must show his clients’ inoffensive nature. He insists
on their moral feelings and their aspirations to normalcy. He specifies
that they are not “drug addicts”, they “don’t steal” and their marginali-
sation does not necessarily coincide with delinquency. He affirms the
occupants’ insertion in their neighbourhood and if possible, presents
letters and petitions of support signed by neighbours. The fact that a
recognized association supports the squatters particularly their daily life
style inside the squat can be factors of reassurance for the judge.

Thus, the associational framework (the famous DAL association, the
organization advocating for the right to housing that since the begin-
ning of the 1990s organized appropriation of empty buildings for peo-
ple without residence or those who were badly housed) is therefore an
advantage even if it is in no way a guarantee, for some squats supported
by organisations of this kind have suffered immediate evictions. But for
the lawyer, it can tilt the balance of power in favour of squatters more
than in the case of an isolated occupation. However, the presence of an
association in a court hearing of squatters occurs rarely.

In juridical processes, squatters are classified according to three ma-
jor criteria: the “genuine poverty”, “sincerity” and “harmlessness”. The
question is to prove that they suffer from marginality and do not rep-
resent a danger for the collectivity. Squats resulting from poverty in
which occupants justify their practice by the need to survive are most
likely to be effective on grounds of “good faith” so that the stigma of
delinquency can be successfully averted. Alternative squats (artistic, po-
litical collectivities) have more difficulty in appearing as squats from
necessity; but they are also less suspected of deviancy than the former.
A short description will illustrate the preceding statements. It lists
the arguments mobilized by lawyers in court hearings of a squat of art-
ists. Installed in the enclosure of a partially disused municipal building
in the neighbourhood of the Panier in Marseilles, the SLAAF (Sans
Local d’Activités Artistiques Fixes) was opened in 2000 and evicted in

There were fifteen of us, mostly inhabitants or SLAAF
sympathizers, present in the hearing of 7 January 2001. The
squatters’ lawyer opened the debate. He began by pleading the
inadmissibility of the complaint, arguing that the mayor of
Marseilles was incompetent to act in the arenas of culture such
as housing that fall under the district Council’s jurisdiction.
The mayor’s lawyer then spoke. He quickly rejected the formal
arguments and asserted the legal nature of the right of action.
He then came down to the facts by developing five successive
points. First, he recalled the illicit nature of the occupation
and contested that the occupants penetrated into the build-
ing without breaking-in. He then insisted on the antiquated
and dangerous aspect of the premises. Indeed, the premises
were unfit for habitation. He evoked the illegal electrical con-
nections set up by the squatters, which constitute a source of
danger. His defence dealt essentially with the illegitimacy of
the dwelling. He first questioned their need: One of them was
even the son of the judge, Your Honour! The lawyer then dis-
tinguished these illegal artists from those who rented work-
shops and lodgings on the floor of the same building by pay-
ing a rent as was required to the municipality. Or, it was not
enough to carry a portfolio of designs under the arm to be an
artist. Not only were the so-called squatters hardly artists, but
above all, they were a source of danger: the lawyer quoted a
letter sent to the mayor by these legal artists saying the place
was now open to all and they lived in fear of robberies. The oc-
cupation was therefore not as peaceful as they claimed! Besides,
the legal artists had a real project for the building (space for ex-
hibition, pedagogical space and cultural restaurant) supported
by the city council. Like his adversary, the city council’s lawyer
claimed he did not wish to argue about who were true artists.

But his entire plea attempted to redefine the fake bourgeois/
young authentic artist couple, which he knew to be at the heart
of the defence, as true serious and constructive artists/rebel-
lious and immature youngsters. The squatters’ lawyer then
took the floor and pleaded on fundamental grounds. He began
by asserting entry into the premises without break-in. Then
he very clearly opposed SLAAF occupants to the “false artists”
mentioned above, whom he tried to discredit: Do you see Van
Gogh writing a letter denouncing poor artists? He castigated
the rich artists, whose main activity consists of hand kissing
and eating starters in social receptions at the town hall. These
were the real artists! He clamoured, pointing to us, seated on
the benches in the courtroom. Armed with the thin file pre-
pared by the squatters, the lawyer then intended to give proof
of the works realized and the additional value added to the
place. He insisted on the cleanliness. The city council would
therefore not be cheated. Quite the contrary. He then talked of
the activities organized by the inhabitants, from the opening of
SLAAF in the neighbourhood and the letters of support from
artisans and neighbouring shopkeepers. This occupation was
peaceful and even appreciated. They were not drug addicts, nor
delinquents! He then mentioned the electricity bills that had
been duly paid. They were not parasites! Above all, the lawyer
wanted to prove the occupants’ good faith. He insisted on the
real needs of housing by providing copies of demands for social
housing. He evoked letters sent to the city council in order
to open a dialogue after the proposal of mediation had been
refused. Finally, the lawyer attacked what he termed the phony
associative project of the resident artists. In no case would this
project materialize before June. He asked for the grant of re-
spite until September.

At the court’s exit, SLAAF occupants were happy. They had appre-
ciated their lawyer’s plea and his frankness. On my part, I note three
schemes of legitimacy identified earlier (genuine need, sincerity, harm-
lessness). However, I will never know if the judge in charge of the file
was sensitive to them. After the hearing and certainly with the medi-
atisation of the affair by the regional press, the mayor withdrew his
complaint and went to the extent of promising the inhabitants the sig-
nature of a convention of precarious occupation. But some weeks later,
he changed positions and summoned them to appear once again before
the court where their eviction would finally be announced.

The perfect ultimate resort:
the question of “troubling public order”

Once the judge decrees eviction, it is up to the prefecture to final-
ly decide if a squat should or shouldn’t be evicted by authorizing the
use of force. Besides, basically, re-accommodation (or more often no
re-accommodation) of squatters also depends on the prefect.
When does the prefect postpone eviction? From my observations,
the government official generally takes such a decision in case of a risk
of serious public disorder. This is adopted when the squatters are sup-
ported and threaten to mediatise their situation and/or when they ap-
pear to suffer from particularly dramatic living conditions. Young chil-
dren clearly inspire more compassion than adults, in particular single
men who are perfect figureheads of the “bad” poor.

Adjournment of eviction normally opens the way to negotiation be-
tween the government official and the landlord, who, since the 1998
law (which, in this sense, is also a protector of property rights), re-
ceives compensation for the sum of unpaid rents. Thus, the inhabit-
ants of some squats benefit from a form of juridical status quo, while
awaiting re-accommodation and/or seizure of the occupied building
by public powers. They settle their occupation dues on a monthly ba-
sis and the state pays the remaining amount. Another question, which
the prefect must decide is whether or not to grant accommodation to
the evicted squatters. As opposed to occupants with titles, there is no
legal compulsion to re-accommodate squatters after an eviction. Re-
accommodation again falls within the discretionary power of the ad-
ministration. Fieldwork revealed that in most cases, no re-accommo-
dation is granted. Persons identified as without fixed domicile (Sans
Domicile Fixe [SDF]), alternative groups (who however do not all ask
for access to ordinary housing), “isolated” immigrant workers, foreign-
ers without papers… are those who practically never benefit from re-
accommodation. The presence of young children and the institution
of a balance of power by mobilisation of inhabitants and their support
(associations, militants, neighbours) could nonetheless positively influ-
ence the decision to re-accommodate.

Moreover, it must be noted that when housing is assigned, most of
the time it is simply temporary accommodation: some nights in a hotel
or a place in a household. It is not rare that inhabitants refuse these
proposals, even if it means putting up encampments in the same street,
so as to draw the attention of the media and public authorities to their
situation. Some only see this as “manipulation” by associations more
anxious to ensure their own publicity than help the evicted. However,
one can easily imagine people tired of being shunted from one tempo-
rary accommodation to another hoping to find some stability at last.
Moreover, as I frequently observed, the reluctance to accept accom-
modations miles away from the neighbourhoods where families have
been living, where children are going to school or parents working and
where links of sociability and solidarity have been constructed, makes
perfect sense and renders suspicions of “manipulation” or allegations of
so-called demands of “special treatment” redundant.

Thus, in most cases, the prefect does not postpone eviction of squat-
ters nor does he apply the step of re-accommodation. When he grants
the assistance of law enforcement agencies, the last stage of eviction
begins. A letter from the prefecture is addressed to the police agree-
ing upon a date with the bailiff. An eviction calls for some organiza-
tion: on the fixed date, the bailiff, the police officers, the locksmith and
the removal men are all present. Most evictions take place early in the
morning. Physical resistance is rare and occurs essentially in political
squats. Once the eviction is carried out, a locksmith is responsible for
immediately shutting the premises. Next, the squat is walled up and
“anti-squat” armoured doors are installed. Sometimes too, the insides
of the place are destroyed (police forces speak of rendering an apart-
ment “lifeless” so as to discourage new squats).

Eviction is not only a traumatizing moment, it further undermines
the inhabitants. Thus, Claire Lévy-Vroelant and Jérôme Segal make the
following observations on the eviction of 150 Romas from a building
in Montreuil in 2003: “this eviction adds to the misery of precarious-
ness. Efforts at integration are shattered. Children were enrolled in pri-
mary or secondary school, in special classes, access to health care was
instituted by constituting medical files, the demand for literacy classes
was going to be heard, etc” (2003, 224). Evictions consequently lead
to heightened impoverishment of populations already victims of ostra-
cism and great social vulnerability. In no sense do they resolve the squat
“question”, because in the absence of an alternative, it is highly prob-
able that the persons concerned will sooner or later occupy a new build-
ing. Eviction thus contributes to producing the very situation it was
supposed to end: occupation without right or title to vacant housing.


As far as a squat is concerned, the “spirit of the law” is finally not so
easy to identify: the legislator as we saw, does not oblige the judge to
protect the inhabitant who has neither right nor title, whilst leaving
him the opportunity to do so. It is in this zone of uncertainty that a
judge, a police officer or a prefect can exercise his power of discretion.
The tension is then between two perceptible poles: ultimately it must
be determined if the squatter is a “voluntary marginal” or a “victim” of
bad housing.

The ethnography of litigation of a squat confirms the importance
of a “delinquential” reading of a squat by government officials. Social,
economic and residential fragility of the large majority of inhabit-
ants is hidden by the stigma of deviance. By offending the “absolute
and sacred” right of private property, squatters don the clothes of the
“wicked”, even seditious poor from whom society must above all be
protected. In this general repressive frame, some differentiations are
nonetheless applied. The figure of the child, because it is linked to in-
nocence and equally part of a legal compulsion to protect it, appears
most effective in changing the stigma. But it does not form an un-
shaken bastion. Besides, it is always open to “reversal” since bad living
conditions in a squat could be a motive to place children with foster
parents. Parents then find themselves obliged to take up the responsi-
bility and emotional cost of a situation they suffer. Other parameters
more often work against the inhabitants: the fact of being young, male
and especially foreign. At the moral level these modalities of classifica-
tion are objects of a juridical translation through channels of categories
like “good faith” and “troubling public order”. These ad hoc grading of
squatters on which the forms of procedural acts will depend, update the
dialectic between “true” and “false” poverty, which has lain behind the
reversibility of a policy of assistance quickly veering to repression when
confronting target populations (Geremek, 1997).
However, it would be wrong to affirm that laws in favour of hous-
ing rights have no effect on government officials’ decisions on squats.
Indeed, several examples testify that some judges and prefects base
themselves on laws favouring housing of “disadvantaged people” to
grant respites to occupants without rights or titles. But on the sub-
ject of the squat, nothing is won. Firstly, because as mentioned in the
introduction, of the persistence of initiatives to criminalize the practice
or limit squatters’ rights. On the other hand, some “favourable judge-
ments” for squatters have not become a precedent, as Joane Benhayoun’s
thesis of law affirms (2005): jurisprudence on the subject has shown
itself to be undeniably protective of property rights during the last
few years, although measures upholding the right to housing have not
ceased to multiply. Therefore, if the question of law remains decisive as
far as future living conditions of squatters are concerned, that of social
“norms” is equally so. Today, it is also around collective representations
of the realities of a squat that struggles must be conducted.


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