The Official Monopoly Rules That Everyone Gets Wrong

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There are those who love Monopoly and those who hate it. Ask the Monopoly haters why they don’t want to play and they’ll likely say “it takes too long” or “it makes us argue”.

Couple having argument over Monopoly

But why does Monopoly take so long? And why is it the cause of so many rows? Well, it’s because people don’t know how to play Monopoly right. Specifically, people misunderstanding the rules.

In this article, I’ll show you 16 ways that you’ve probably been playing Monopoly wrong. Following these rules correctly will not only make your game much faster, it will also prevent most Monopoly fights from starting.

Do you know the Monopoly rules?

A survey by Monopoly manufacturer Hasbro showed that 68% of Americans have never read the Monopoly game rules. In addition, 49% admitted to making up their own rules.

Instead of studying the rulebook, it seems that people are relying on ‘house rules‘ that have been passed on via word of mouth and were never intended to be part of the game.

The problem is, doing things like throwing cash in the center of the board and skipping auctions can make the game last for much longer than it’s meant to. And when different players have different ideas of what the rules should be, there’s the potential for conflict.

Reading the Monopoly rulebook is dry, I get it. So instead, just take a look at the most commonly misunderstood rules in the game…

1. When you land on a property, you MUST buy or auction it

If you land on an unowned property and want to buy it, go right ahead. But if you don’t want to buy it, you must start an auction.

If you make the mistake of not auctioning the property and leaving it unowned, you will really drag out the game. Players may land on the same property time and time again with no money changing hands, and it will all get very boring.

To auction a property, the bidding starts at $1 and anyone can increase the bid by any amount. When nobody wants to bid more, the auction ends and the highest bidder pays the bank.

Pro tip: Always pay at least half of the original price. Any less than that will allow a player to mortgage the property for a profit.

Read more: Monopoly Auction Rules Explained

Landing on property

2. You don’t get any money for landing on Free Parking

While it may sound like a fun rule to throw all your fines into the center of the board and win them back when you land on the Free Parking space, this isn’t in the official rules and it’s a really bad idea.

For a game of Monopoly to reach a conclusion, players must become bankrupt. The official Monopoly rules are carefully balanced so that as you’re collecting money from passing Go and the like, you’re also losing money to fines.

If you effectively stop players from losing money to fines, everyone will build up an unnatural amount of cash. This means that it will take much longer for players to go bankrupt.

You could also find yourself in the situation where you each have an ever-increasing amount of cash, causing a never-ending game. Borrrr-ing!

According to the official Monopoly rules, when you land on Free Parking, nothing happens. It’s simply a rest space.

If you really want to make Free Parking more exciting, why not choose your own rule that doesn’t affect the game, such as getting to choose the music or having to fetch more snacks?

Read more: What does Free Parking mean in Monopoly?

Free Parking

3. Don’t loan money to other players

It’s often tempting to loan money to other players. Perhaps you’re playing with a child and you don’t want them to be upset if they lose. Or maybe someone is only a few dollars short and they can’t be bothered to mortgage property to raise the funds.

Really, there’s never a good reason to loan money to another player in Monopoly. It’s against the rules and all it does is make it harder to make someone bankrupt.

So, if you want to win, don’t loan any money. Instead, make sure you know what happens when a player runs out of money in Monopoly.

Monopoly cash

4. There’s no such thing as rent immunity

Sometimes, players might decide to team up and say ‘you can land on my properties for free if I can land on yours for free’. This is wrong for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s just not fair on any players who aren’t involved in your deal. In a three-player game, if two players don’t charge each other rent then it’s obvious who the first one out of the game will be. This favoritism is likely to cause arguments.

Secondly, rent immunities are another thing that’s going to make your game last much longer than it should. When you roll the dice, you want things to happen. With rent immunity, the result of your throw could be nothing. And that’s boring.

While you can’t team up and agree not to charge each other rent, there are other ways that you can work as a team when playing Monopoly to help both of you to win. You can read more about those here: How To Team Up To Win Monopoly.

5. Don’t forget to trade

All too often, people shy away from trading. Yet it’s the essence of the game!

Waiting until you acquire properties naturally is boring, and you could easily find yourself in a situation where nobody can get a complete set.

So, don’t be afraid to offer trades and to negotiate. It can be risky, but it adds a whole new level to the game.

Suggested read: Monopoly Trading Rules & Strategies to Win

Trading in Monopoly

6. Know what can be traded and what can’t

Did you know, it’s not just properties that can be swapped? You can also trade with cash and even with Get Out of Jail Free cards.

You can’t trade houses and hotels, though. The only way to get rid of those is to sell them back to the bank for half of what you paid.

That means that if you have a color set with houses, you can’t trade this set with another player until you have first sold the buildings back to the bank.

7. Only trade for profit, not for pity

If you want to win at Monopoly, you’ve got to treat the game like it’s your business. And that means not trading just because you feel sorry for someone.

Giving a player a property that will let them complete a full set may seem like a nice gesture. But you could just be dragging the game out unnecessarily by making it take longer for that player to lose.

So rather than being super nice and giving away assets, let’s all be ruthless and have a fast but fun game.

playing Monopoly with a child

8. The Banker must not steal from the bank

The role of Banker is an important one. The Banker is in charge of the bank’s money, the title deed cards, houses, hotels, and auctions.

When you’re the Banker, it can be tempting to dip into the bank’s money to top up your own. But really, it’s not big, it’s not clever and all you’re going to do is tick off your opponents when they catch you.

Just because you’re the Banker, it doesn’t mean that you should take advantage of your power.

Suggested read: How to Cheat at Monopoly Without Getting Caught

banker's tray

9. You don’t need to wait your turn

In Monopoly, you can only roll the dice and move your token when it’s your turn. However, players often don’t realize that there are lots of things that they can do in between other players’ turns.

You don’t need to wait for your turn to:

  • Mortgage and unmortgage property
  • Build and sell houses and hotels
  • Initiate and take part in trades

If you want to do any of these things, don’t wait. While you can’t take action during someone else’s turn, you don’t need to wait until the dice are in your hand.

However, if a player rolls doubles and approaches your property faster than expected, that doesn’t mean that you can stop them between rolls to unmortgage or add some extra houses. In Monopoly World Championships, a double has been seen as a continuation of a turn, so you would have to wait for the complete turn to end.

next player's turn

10. Auction the last house or hotel

There are only 32 houses and 12 hotels in a Monopoly set and once they’re gone, they’re gone. You cannot but any more until someone sells theirs back to the bank.

If multiple players want to buy the last house or hotel, the Banker must auction it. Bids start at $10 and anyone can increase the bid by any amount. You don’t need to follow turn order.

So, if you see someone attempting to buy the last house or hotel, it’s a good time to put in a bid and either take it for yourself, or make them pay more.

Last Monopoly hotel

11. Players must ask for rent

‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’ is a phrase that applies to Monopoly rents as well as many other important things in life.

According to the rent rules in Monopoly, when someone lands on a property that you own, you must ask for rent. If you don’t ask and the next player rolls the dice, they don’t have to play.

If a player rolls a double, you don’t necessarily need to ask for rent before they move their token off the space. You have the full time until the next player rolls to claim your rent payment.

Monopoly rent

12. When trading mortgaged property, the new owner must pay fees

This is a little-known Monopoly rule that so many players miss out. It doesn’t have too much of an impact on the game, but it’s good to know.

When you trade with another player and acquire a property that has been mortgaged, you have two options:

  1. Repay the mortgage – Pay the bank the money needed to unmortgage the property
  2. Keep the mortgage – Pay the bank 10% of the mortgage value immediately

It’s easy to forget that you must pay the bank 10% of the mortgage value, but the official rules state that you must do this if you don’t want to immediately unmortgage the property.

Suggested read: Monopoly Mortgage Rules – A Simple Explanation

mortgaged property

13. Owning multiple railroads results in increased rent, even if they’re mortgaged

With the Monopoly railroads, the rent that you can claim depends on how many you own:

  • One Railroad – Claim $25
  • Two Railroads – Claim $50
  • Three Railroads – Claim $100
  • Four Railroads – Claim $200

If you mortgage one or more railroads, you can still collect an increased rent on the others.

For example, let’s say you own all four railroads but you mortgage three of them. If someone lands on your single unmortgaged railroad, they must pay you $200. If they land on a mortgaged railroad they owe you nothing.

The same rule applies to the streets. So if you own the complete Yellow set and mortgage one of them, you can still collect double rents when a player lands on one of your unmortgaged Yellow properties.

Monopoly railroads mortgaged

14. You can still collect rent while in jail

Many people believe that Monopoly jail is like real jail – You just have to sit there and wait to get out. That’s not true.

According to the official Monopoly jail rules, while in Monopoly jail you can still collect rent, buy and sell property, mortgage and unmortgage property, and buy and sell houses.

Jail can actually be one of the best places to be, as you can still collect rent, while avoiding landing on other players’ costly properties. So don’t be in a rush to get out, unless you still need to build up your property portfolio.

Suggested read: Can You Collect Rent in Jail in Monopoly?

Monopoly token in Jail

15. If you make someone bankrupt, you keep all their assets

If someone lands on your property and can’t pay (despite selling houses and mortgaging), then you’ve made them bankrupt and they’re out of the game. Congrats!

But what’s even better than that? You get to keep all of their stuff!

Oftentimes, people will return all the cash, properties, and Get Out Of Jail Free cards to the bank. But that’s not right. They should go to the player who caused the bankruptcy.

Of course, if someone goes bankrupt because they have to pay a fine, for example, then in that case everything would go back to the bank and any properties would be immediately put up for auction.

16. You don’t need to take a lap before you start

Some people believe that you need to do a lap of the board before you can buy anything, but that’s not in the Monopoly official rules.

Sure, it makes it seem a little fairer, as the first player can’t sprint around the board and buy everything up. But honestly, it just adds unnecessary time on to the game.

Instead, just roll the dice to see who goes first. Letting the player with the highest roll goes first is so much quicker and easier than the pointless extra lap.

The Bottom Line

Monopoly has a lot of rules, I get that. But it’s crazy to think that so many people play it wrong and that causes them to hate the game! Especially since the original Monopoly rules have been pretty much unchanged for almost 100 years! Simply following the rules is the number one way to play Monopoly faster.

Now that you know these little-known but very official rules of Monopoly, I hope that you’ll enjoy much faster games of Monopoly, without any arguments!

Jenni Fielding

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Monopoly Land - an unofficial fan site. She has been a huge fan of Monopoly and has been playing the game for over 30 years. She is a stickler for the rules and loves to find vintage Monopoly sets in second-hand shops.