Nobody wants to be sent to jail in Monopoly as it’s much more fun to keep going around the board buying up new properties.
But is it actually so bad in jail? Can you still participate in the game and collect rent money while incarcerated? Can you come out richer than when you went in? Is it actually quite a good place to be (tactically speaking)?
Let’s look closer at what happens whilst you’re in jail in Monopoly.
Can you collect rent while in jail?
You can still collect rent while in jail in Monopoly. If an opposing player lands on one of your properties they must pay you rent in the normal way. In fact, other than moving to another square, you can still do most things whilst in jail.
According to the official Monopoly jail rules, you’re still able to build or sell houses and hotels, you can still buy or mortgage property, and you can still take part in auctions and make deals with other players.
Despite being in jail, you can still make a lot of money and play a full part in the game – you can do everything other than actually moving your token around the board.
So, is it a bad thing to be sent to jail? Well, you will lose the opportunity to buy new properties by landing on them, and you won’t be able to collect your $200 salary. Other than that it is not so bad.
Early in the game, going to jail is more of a problem as you miss the chance to buy properties when they are available.
But later in the game, being sent to jail might actually be a good thing!
Later in the game, it could mean that you avoid the risk of landing on expensive properties owned by your opponent (possibly with houses and hotels on). This means that you avoid the risk of having to pay huge rents to your opponents whilst still having the chance to collect rent from the other players.
Is this fair? Well, Monopoly jail isn’t much of a punishment. But then you didn’t really do anything so bad to deserve being put in prison, so it is hard to say if it’s fair or not.
The ‘Collect Rent in Jail’ house rule
If you are firm believers that the punishment should fit the crime (and that landing on an illustrated policeman constitutes a crime), you might think that playing by the official Monopoly jail rules is not suitably tough on crime.
In this case, you might want to agree (before you start playing) to use your own house rule that states ‘when in jail, a player cannot collect any rent money from other players.
This is one of the more commonly used Monopoly house rules and allows you to take a tougher stance on what you can and can’t do during a player’s jail time.
Some video game versions of Monopoly actually have this rule as an option in the settings, so it’s clearly something that has gained recognition as a valid way to depart from the official rules.
How collecting rent in jail affects Monopoly tactics
Not collecting rent is quite a popular house rule as it makes going to jail more of a punishment – but it also has an impact on how people play the game and the best tactics to use.
A lot depends on the state of the game and who owns what properties, but not being able to collect rent is likely to mean that you want to get out of jail more quickly.
While in jail, you’re now starved of income whilst your opponents are still able to collect their own rent. They can also land on your spaces rent-free, which is bound to cause them great joy and cause you great frustration!
Faced with the loss of rental income for up to three turns, you might consider the $50 fine to get out of jail to be a small price to pay to get back in the game. It also might make you more inclined to play a Get Out of Jail Free card if you’re lucky enough to have one.
The third way to get yourself out of jail is to roll a double. But wanting one doesn’t actually make it any more likely to happen (and it will probably make it feel less likely to happen!).
Read more: How To Get Out of Jail In Monopoly
If you’re playing Monopoly by the proper rules you can still collect rent while you’re in jail. This is a pretty sweet deal and might actually be to your advantage depending on the state of the game.
You can happily sit in jail like a convicted Mafia boss safe in the knowledge that you’ll keep on raking in the cash while you serve your time.
This is fine if it’s you, but if it’s one of your opponents that’s locked up you might not think that this is such a fair punishment. If that’s how you all feel, then you can change the rules before you start the game so that nobody can earn rent whilst they are in jail.
This is potentially more fun as you get the chance to live rent-free at your opponent’s hotel whilst they sweat in jail.
It also slightly changes the tactics of the game as you may be more inclined to try and get an early release from the parole board (by paying a fine, rolling a double, or playing your Get Out of Jail Free card).
I think playing the rule either way works, so why not give the house rule a try and see which you prefer.