Simple Monopoly Rules For Property and Housing (And Everything Else!)


The objective of Monopoly is simple, become the richest player in the game and drive everyone else broke. This game has been around since at least 1935 when it was first published by Parker Brothers.

Obscure rules and hard-to-understand rules are simplified on this page, including rules that are the most misunderstood like auctioning property, what happens when you land on Free Parking (nothing) and collecting money while in jail (yes you can) and going bankrupt.

Monopoly Rules For Going Bankrupt

A player goes bankrupt when the player owes more than he or she can pay. If the money is owed to another player then that player gets everything the bankrupt player owns, including any money they have. Before declaring bankruptcy that player must sell all houses and hotels back to the bank for half their original cost. For example, if the player has a hotel on Boardwalk it originally cost four houses ($800) plus the cost of the hotel, which was $200, for a total cost of $1,000. The hotel is only worth half of that, or $500, when it’s sold back to the bank.

If the player getting the assets gets mortgaged property from the player declaring bankruptcy then he or she has to pay the 10% interest due on those properties. The new owner also has the option of paying off the mortgage right away but doesn’t have to. The drawback to this is that once the property is unmortgaged later the 10% interest must be paid again.

If the player going bankrupt owes the bank money that can’t be paid the bank gets everything. All buildings and money are returned to the bank, and the bank puts all the property up for auction right away and sells everything. Any mortgaged property is automatically unmortgaged prior to the auction by the bank.

In both cases the bankrupt player is eliminated from the game.

Monopoly Rules For Money Simplified

No borrowing money from another player is allowed. Only the bank is allowed to loan money, and that is through mortgaging property.

You don’t need to tell anyone how much cash you have on-hand; however, what properties you own is public knowledge to all players.

Players start the game with $1500 cash. The rules say that each player must get:

  • Two $500 bills
  • Two $100 bills
  • Two $50 bills
  • Six $20 bills
  • Five $10 bills
  • Five $5 bills
  • Five $1 bills

Monopoly Rules For Income Tax Simplified

When you land on the “Income Tax” square you must pay either 10% of everything you own or a flat rate of $200. That decision must be made before totaling up your assets.

Rent For Owning All The Properties In A Color Set

When you own all the properties in a color set, which is a monopoly, rent is doubled on all the unimproved (no houses or hotels) properties. Even if houses are built on some of the properties rent is still double on any properties without a house or hotel.

Just like railroads, rent is still double when a player lands on an unmortgaged property if you own all of them, even with one, or even two of the other ones, mortgaged.

Rolling Doubles

A double means both the dice show the same number. Throwing a double means you get to roll the dice again after taking care of any business for the square you landed on, like buying a property, paying rent or paying a penalty of some kind. If you roll a double again you do the same thing, move the correct number of spaces and take care of any business. Roll a double a third time and you go to jail without moving. You do not get to pass Go and collect your salary of $200 but you can collect rent and trade properties while in jail.

Building Houses

You can buy houses from the bank when you own all the properties in one color group. You must “build evenly,” meaning that there can’t be a difference of more than one house per color group. For instance, if you own all three of the red properties you can’t have three houses on Illinois Avenue, one house on Indiana Avenue, and no houses on Kentucky Avenue. It’s okay to have two on each one, or two on Kentucky Avenue and Illinois Avenue and three on Indiana Avenue, since this is considered “building evenly.”

When buying houses you pay the amount shown on the title deed card. If you sell houses they must also follow these rules, no leaving four houses on one property and two or less houses on another.

If the bank runs out of houses or hotels no new ones can be built until some are turned into the bank by a player.

Buying Hotels

You can’t buy a hotel until you have four houses on each property in the group. The cost of the hotel is the four houses on the property plus the cost for a hotel that is listed on the title deed card, which is the same cost as a house. The houses are returned to the bank. Only one hotel is allowed on each property.

Buying Property

If you land on a square and the property is not owned by anyone you can buy it. The property is bought by paying the price shown on the board to the banker.

If you don’t want to buy it the property goes up for auction. Read the Monopoly rules for bidding (next paragraph) on this page to see how an auction works.

Monopoly Rules for Bidding

Bidding in Monopoly is called an auction. This occurs when a player lands on property and doesn’t want to buy it. The banker conducts the bidding, and both the banker, unless the banker is not a player, and the person who originally didn’t want to buy the property can bid. The bid price can start at any price and continues until one player hasn’t been outbid. The money goes into the bank and the winning bidder gets the title deed.

Monopoly Rules For Selling Houses and Hotels

The same rule for buying houses and hotels applies in reverse for selling. Once complete there can’t be more than one house difference between properties. For example, if you have four houses on St. Charles Place, States Avenue, and Virginia Avenue, after selling four of them you can’t have four left on Virginia Avenue, four left left on States Avenue, and none left on St. Charles Place. Since eight houses are left you must have 3 on Virginia Avenue and States Avenue and two left on St. James Place, for example. The exact number on each property is up to you as long as you “break them down” evenly.

Houses and hotels can be sold at any time during the game but can only be sold back to the bank at half of their original cost.

Monopoly Rules For Utilities

When a player lands on a Utility in Monopoly that player must pay (if the player owning the property notices) the owner four times the amount shown on the dice that was rolled that turn, or ten times the amount shown on the dice if the player owns both of them. A player does not roll again to determine the amount owed.

For example, if a player lands on Water Works by throwing a seven, and the player owning it does not own the Electric Company, then the player would pay 7×4 for a total of $28.

If a player owns both utilities and one of them is mortgaged the rent is still ten times the amount shown on the dice if a player lands on the one that is not mortgaged. Like Railroads, Utilities cannot be developed or improved.

Monopoly Rules For Railroads

Railroads cannot be improved like properties, the only way the rent increases is by owning more than one. They cost $200 apiece to purchase and rent doubles for each one you own. For example, owning one railroad will only bring in $25 when someone lands on it, owning all four of them will give you a nice payment of $200, the same amount that you get for passing Go.

If you own all four railroads and one is mortgaged you can still collect the full rent of $200 from the other three.

What If The Bank Runs Out Of Money?

The bank never runs out of money, like the government it just creates more. If it runs out of “regular” money the banker simply writes out what’s needed on a piece of paper and hands it out.

Monopoly Rules For Community Chest And Chance Cards

If a player lands on one of these squares the player takes the top card off the deck and does what is says. Once complete, unless it’s a Get Out of Jail Free card, it’s placed back into the stack at the bottom of the deck.

Can You Collect Rent While In Jail?

The short answer is yes, you can collect rent while in jail. That includes rent from properties and rent from houses and hotels. You can even buy and sell properties through trading. The only thing you can’t do is move while you’re in jail.

You can end up in jail several ways:

  • When you land on the square titled “Go To Jail.”
  • When you draw a card from either the Chance or Community Chest deck telling you to go to jail.
  • When you roll three doubles in a row.

In all cases you don’t get to collect your $200 salary and your turn ends.

Monopoly Rules For Getting Out Of Jail

A player gets out of jail by:

  • Rolling doubles in one of the next three turns.
  • Using a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
  • Buying a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from another player, hopefully for less than $50.
  • Paying a $50 fine, which must be paid on the third try if doubles aren’t thrown. On the third try, if doubles aren’t thrown, the fine must be paid right away and the player must move the number of spaces indicated on the dice. No second throws are allowed.
  • If you throw doubles and get out of jail you don’t get to throw the dice again during that turn, you move the amount of spaces indicated by the dice and then your turn is over. The exception to this is if you’ve already paid the $50 fine. Since you are technically out of jail the doubles count as doubles and you can roll again.

If you can’t pay the fine to get out of jail, game over!

Monopoly Rules For “Just Visiting”

This is the area of the “In Jail” square that’s marked “Just Visiting.” Just like Free Parking, this is simply a space to rest between turns. Nothing special happens when landing on this square.

Monopoly Rules for “Go Directly To Jail” cards.

If you draw a Chance or Community Chest card sending you to jail you do not get to collect $200 for passing “Go.” Like the card says you go directly to jail without passing Go.

Monopoly Rules for “Advance To Go” Cards

Both decks have this card. When this card is drawn the player moves the token to “Go” and collects $200, not $400. The only “exception” to this rule is if the player passes Go and then draws a card telling that player to advance to Go. In that case the player would get $400 in one turn, once for passing go and once again for moving the token to the Go space as instructed by the card, which means the player gets paid another $200, for a total of $400 that turn.

Monopoly Rules For Winning the Game

The game continues until everyone but one player is bankrupt and out of the game.

What Do You Do If a Player Quits?

If a player quits it is treated as a bankruptcy, everything ends up going to the bank and any properties are put up for auction. A quitting player is not allowed to give any of the assets they have to another player.

How to Unmortgage Property In Monopoly

Property can be unmortgaged at any time. To get rid of a mortgage the player pays the amount shown on the back of the card (it’s flipped over to show that it’s been mortgaged) to the bank plus 10% interest. For instance, if Marvin Gardens is mortgaged for $140, to unmortgage it the player has to pay the bank $140 plus 10% interest which is $14, for a total of $154. All properties work the same way, you must add 10% of the mortgage value to the cost of unmortgaging the property.

Another player can’t “steal” the property from you by paying off the mortgage for you. The property is yours, regardless of whether it is mortgaged or not. Another player can’t pay the mortgage off for you anyway, that would be considered a loan which is not allowed by the rules.

No rent can be collected on a mortgaged property. If all the properties of a color group are owned by one player and only one of them is mortgaged, rent is still double for the other two unmortgaged properties.

When purchasing a mortgaged property from someone you can unmortgage it right away if you want to, but you must pay the 10% interest immediately. If you don’t unmortgage the property right away, you have to pay 10% interest again when you finally do unmortgage it.

Mortgaging Property in Monopoly

Any property can be mortgaged as long as it is unimproved, or in other words, any houses and hotels on it must be sold back to the bank first, they cannot be sold to another player. The selling price is one-half the price of buying them. In keeping with the rules houses must be sold evenly, meaning a player can’t leave three houses on one property and one house on another property of the same color group. There cannot be a difference of more than one house on any of the properties. For example, it’s okay to have three houses on Marvin Gardens and two houses each on Ventnor Avenue and Atlantic Avenue (yellow color group). It’s not okay to have four on Marvin Gardens and two houses on the other two properties in the yellow color group.

It is okay to have houses built unevenly between different color groups. For example, it’s okay to have three houses on all the properties in the yellow color group and only one house on each property group of the red property group. The rule only applies to properties in the same color group.

Monopoly Rules About Immunity

This is one area the rules are not real clear about. Immunity would be one player agreeing with another not to collect rent as part of a deal, usually limited to a trip or two around the board. There is nothing in the rules saying this can be done, but there is nothing in the rules forcing a player to honor that deal either so that part of the deal could be ignored.

The rules do say rent must be paid but only if asked, so it would not be a violation of that rule not to ask someone to pay rent, although it’s not really in the spirit of the game. The best thing to do is clarify this rule before playing and not during gameplay.

Monopoly Free Parking Rules

Free Parking is just that, a place to stop and rest. Unless using house rules of some kind (we an entire section devoted to house rules on this page) a player doesn’t get any money, or anything else for landing on it. Any fines paid by a player go to the bank and not to Free Parking.

Monopoly “You Are Assessed For Street Repairs” Cards.

Both the Community Chest and Chance decks have a version of the same card but the Chance version will cost you less. The Chance version costs a player $25 for each house while the Community Chest version costs $40 per house. The Community Chest version also costs more per hotel than the Chance version, $115 per hotel for the Community Chest card versus $100 per hotel for the Chance card.

Although the Community Chest card is not as clear as the Chance card, since you are the one being assessed you only need to pay for your houses and hotels, not everyone’s. The money you pay goes to the bank and not to Free Parking unless using a house rule that changes this.

If you don’t have any houses or hotels then your cost is $0.

Monopoly Rules for 2 Players

There are no official rules for two-player Monopoly games, the same rules apply regardless of how many players there are. There are house rules for two player games that, if you’d like to know about them are on this page on our website.

Monopoly Tips

  • Buy almost everything you can afford. Don’t be scared off by the cheaper properties, the main idea is to gain income by getting it from your opponents. Rent does that, no matter how small.
  • Orange and red properties are the best to own since those are the properties landed on the most frequently. Focus on getting a monopoly for at least one of these, if not both.
  • Spend as much money as you can afford, particularly at the start of the game.
  • Forget about buying utilities, they usually don’t pay for themselves, unless you can get them at a discount.
  • Railroads are a good investment since they are landed on frequently. Since three out of four of them are among the ten most landed on properties it will give you a steady cash flow.
  • Build three houses per property as fast as possible. Three houses provides a lot more rent income, plus they provide the best return on your investment.
  • In the early part of the game get out of jail quickly before all the properties are bought up by other players.
  • In the late game take advantage of being in jail. You just might get lucky enough to avoid paying rent for a few turns. You can still collect rent.
  • If you buy houses quickly you might be able to use them all up. Once that’s done the other players won’t be able to build any new ones due to the housing shortage you created.
  • Like any dice game the odds always favor throwing a seven. Take a look at your opponents and, if able, develop any property you have that is seven squares away from their current location before they take their turn.
  • When mortgaging use the properties that are landed on the least frequently.
  • Buy a property in a color group only if no one else already owns one in that group.
  • An exception to this tip is to buy one that another person owns in that group if it stops them from getting a monopoly.
  • If you need to mortgage a property, mortgage one that you only have one of in a color group. You can’t build houses until you own all the properties in that color group anyway so it’s okay to use the money for something else.
  • If you have a choice go for the second set of properties on a “street.” It costs the same to improve them but higher rent is always available on the second set.
  • The top ten properties for being landed on are Illinois (most frequent), B&O Railroad, New York Avenue, Reading Railroad, Tennessee Avenue, Pennsylvania Railroad, St. James Place, Water Works, Kentucky Avenue, and Indiana Avenue.
  • The least landed on properties are Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue.
  • Once you get a color set mortgage almost everything else so you can put as many houses on it as possible. Try to hit that magic number of three when it comes to houses.
  • Believe it or not most house rules prolong a game that is already long enough. Unless they are designed to speed the game up, or if you like really long games, avoid them unless you like extremely long games.

Etiquette

You can build or trade properties at any time but it’s considered good etiquette to do it between turns.

If someone lands on an owned property and the owner doesn’t notice, it’s okay to say nothing. After all, it’s probably in your best interest anyway. The player owning the property has until the end of the next player’s turn to see it and collect rent.

Understand and agree to the rules, including any house rules, before starting the game.

As with any game, be polite.

Possible House Rules

You can’t collect rent while in jail.

If you roll a double and get out of jail you don’t move by that number. You roll the dice again to determine how many squares you move.

Want a lot more house rules? Read about them on this page although you’ll need to scroll down some to see them.

There are also a number of PC Monopoly games, with the most recent one being Monopoly Plus. Take a look at our review page to learn more about it.

Rich Gallien

I've always liked board games like chess and PC games, especially space based strategy games, which lead to the creation of this site. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it and updating it with new games!

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