When it comes to the game of Monopoly, every family seems to have their own house rules that they always play by.
Are you the family who pays fees and taxes to the center of the board? And when someone lands on Free Parking, they get all of that cash? How about action restrictions when someone is in Jail?
These are just some of the more common house rules that are strangely ubiquitous across Monopoly games around the world.
But playing Monopoly by house rules is the main reason why the game has a notorious reputation for taking so long—and the reason why so many people hate playing Monopoly.
If you play by the actual Monopoly rules, it shouldn’t take any longer than 60 to 90 minutes. But what are the actual rules of the game? How are properties, trades, and hotels actually played?
Here’s everything you need to know about the actual rules of Monopoly, which rule misconceptions are false, and which house rules actually aren’t official rules.
Property Auctions in Monopoly
Most people haven’t been playing this part of Monopoly correctly. In fact, most people don’t even know that auctions are allowed!
The official rule is that when someone lands on an unclaimed property and chooses not to buy it for the listed price, that property is put up for auction—and any other player can bid on it.
Bids for property auctions can start at any price. Furthermore, the player who declined to buy the property can also participate!
This means two things: properties can be acquired for much cheaper than their listed value, and properties get acquired at a much faster pace (which really speeds things up).
The Rules of Jail in Monopoly
This usually comes as a shocker to many: you CAN earn money from your properties even when you’re in jail. In fact, you can even trade properties and build houses and hotels while in jail.
The only thing you can’t do is move around the board and buy unclaimed properties—until you get out of jail.
There are several ways to get out of jail in Monopoly:
- Use the “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
- Buy the “Get Out of Jail Free” card from someone else.
- Pay a $50 fee before you roll your turn.
- Roll doubles on your turn. You can move the amount of spaces you rolled, but you don’t roll again.
If you fail to roll doubles after three turns, you must pay the $50 fee.
Building Houses & Hotels in Monopoly
Firstly, you can’t start building houses and hotels until you own EVERY property of a certain color. This is really the core of Monopoly’s gameplay and you should definitely know this.
Secondly, you must build houses evenly across the properties in a color set. You can’t rush ahead and build a hotel on a single property while leaving the other ones destitute. To build two houses on a property, the whole set needs to have one house each.
Thirdly, you can build as many houses and hotels as you want on a single turn. If you can afford it, you can build it.
Some families play by a house rule where you can only build three houses at a time, then you must pass “Go” before you can continue building more. This isn’t in the official rules—and all it does is artificially stretch out the game.
Lastly, when the bank runs out of houses or hotels, you can’t build any more until houses or hotels are returned to the bank.
Some families play by a house rule where you can say there’s a house that’s represented by a coin or another household object. This is incorrect, as part of Monopoly strategy might be to prevent other players from building when resources have run out.
Loans and Mortgages in Monopoly
No matter how much money you have, and no matter how desperate or polite someone might be, you are NOT allowed to lend any money to any other player in Monopoly.
Only the bank is allowed to loan money to a player, and the only way for a player to borrow money from the bank is to mortgage their properties.
To mortgage a property, all houses and hotels must first be sold to the bank at half price. Then, the property card is flipped over. The player receives cash equal to the property’s mortgage value.
When a property is mortgaged, it cannot collect rent. However, other properties in the same color set can continue collecting rent—as long as they aren’t mortgaged.
To clear the mortgage on a property, you must pay the mortgage value back to the bank along with 10% interest. In other words, a property that’s mortgaged for $100 can be cleared for $110.
Mortgaged properties can be sold to other players for any price. However, when you buy a mortgaged property, you must decide between two options:
- Immediately clear the mortgage on the property by paying the mortgage value plus 10% interest to the bank.
- Keep the mortgage on the property and immediately pay the bank 10% interest to the bank. When you clear the mortgage later, you must pay the bank the mortgage value plus another 10% interest.
Monopoly Free Parking Rules
There’s nothing in the rules of Monopoly that says anything about money going to players who land on Free Parking. Free Parking is nothing more than a neutral space where nothing happens.
Admittedly, the commonly used house rule does make things more interesting—especially when someone desperately needs a few hundred bucks and happens to land on it.
Still, the official rule is that all fees and taxes go to the bank.
Landing on “Go” in Monopoly
There’s nothing special about landing on “Go” versus passing “Go.” No, you don’t get a double salary. No, you don’t collect money from the center like you would with Free Parking. Nothing happens!
In fact, you shouldn’t even collect the $200 for passing “Go” because you’re only supposed to collect it when you pass “Go”—and by landing on it, you technically haven’t passed it yet.
Collecting Rent in Monopoly
You have to pay attention in Monopoly—because if a player lands on one of your properties and you don’t ask them to pay you, they don’t have to pay you.
If the player moves off of your property before you collect rent from them, you’re out of luck. Doubles can be tricky because a player may roll their next turn before you remember to collect rent!
The “One Lap Before Buying” Rule?
Here’s one final common house rule that we’re going to put to rest: some families play by a house rule where you have to lap the board and pass “Go” before you can start buying properties.
This is a rubbish house rule that adds nothing to the gameplay and only serves to extend the game. The official rule is that you can start buying properties from the very first roll of the game.