I play with some serious board gamers, but we have neglected Monopoly for a number of years, so our knowledge is mostly based on high school & house rules.

We played last week and enjoyed it, but there was a piece of contention. There are times where we decide that we don't like one of our friends for some reason and don't want them to win (i.e. we landed on their property a bunch, or they refused to make a deal, etc.).

So when player 1 has some property and player 2 lands on it and cannot pay the rent their assets (houses/hotels get liquidated), their property gets transferred to the other player. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) In this case, though, player 3 "traded" the amount of money owing for a piece of property (way overpaid). In this case they did it so that player 1 would not get the properties. Player 2 had no chance of winning the game (all properties mortgaged, no cash to speak of and many of the other properties with 3+ houses/hotels on them).

To summarize:
Is it OK for a third player to purchase/trade property or cash to/from a player who is about to lose?

  • 4
    I can't find anything in the official rules (warning: PDF link) that specifies when a player can and cannot sell property. My assumption is that you can't trade before resolving the rent-paying action, though.
    – Alex P
    Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 21:46
  • Related: boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/6563/9999
    – Zags
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 12:20
  • The reason that you can't trade property at any time is that first you have to sell any buildings that are on the property group.
    – robartsd
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 19:50

10 Answers 10


The usual ruling is that if you are threatened with bankruptcy (you've landed on a property and don't have enough cash), you can only make trades with other players if they will allow you to avoid bankruptcy. If you can't avoid it, the bankrupting player gets everything you owned (cash and property) at the instant you landed on them, after selling houses/hotels to the bank.

A strict reading of the rules would indicate that if you land on a property and don't have enough cash to pay the rent, you're bankrupt immediately and have no opportunity to sell/trade (or even mortgage) stuff to raise money. Most people consider that silly, and allow trades to raise enough cash to avoid the bankruptcy.

Another common house rule related to bankruptcy -- a player may accept LESS than the amount they are owed if they wish. A common use: You land on my hotel on New York and owe me $1000. I offer to let you off for a $1 if you sell me Boardwalk for $1. Otherwise you might sell it to the player that owns Park Place for $1000 to pay your rent. I can't just buy it from you for $1000 as I don't have that much cash on hand.

  • 10
    That last is an example of the kind of house rule which causes the game to drag on forever. As with money-on-free-parking and not bothering with auctions, these changes are usually made by the same people who charge the game with being a slog.
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 2:48
  • 3
    This is the correct ruling. A player is bankrupt the moment they owe more than they can pay, whether to another player or the bank, and can only make deals and trades that resolve the bankruptcy. Otherwise all that players assets are immediately forfeit to whomever the debt is owed to. Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 0:01
  • 3
    @mattdm (and Chris Dodd) The last is not a house rule. It is part of the game. You are selling Boardwalk for $1000.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 2:58
  • @Kevin Well, you can't just straight-up sell it for $1000 to someone who doesn't have $1000, as Chris notes. You can argue that it makes sense to allow it, and would match the kind of deal someone might make in real life, but, like I said, it's also the kind of thing that makes the game drag on.
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 3:13
  • 1
    @mattdm Yes, the rules of Monopoly are the what makes Monopoly drag on. It's almost as if the game is seriously flawed in terms of game design! :P
    – Samthere
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 9:17

The official rules don't state if you are able to sell properties at any time (in fact, it is one of the few rules that don't have the timing explictly stated), but I wouldn't put too much faith that this wasn't an oversight.

Unimproved properties, railroads and utilities (but not buildings) may be sold to any player as a private transaction for any amount the owner can get

All other types of transactions state that you can do them at any time:

  • Selling "Get Out of Jail Free" cards
  • Mortgaging properties to the bank
  • Selling houses back to the bank
  • Buying houses from the bank.

The most troubling transaction that can be done "at any time", in the above list is "Buying Houses." They probably didn't mean that you can buy houses at any time, after another player rolls the dice, but before they were forced to pay rent on the property they landed on. If they did, this game would be changed for the worst, with people usually not having to invest on houses, until immediately after someone will land on them. This makes me believe that this is probably an oversight.

The rules do make it fairly clear that you can mortgage properties and sell houses/hotels if you are unable to pay a tax to the Bank (this would be after rolling dice, but before resolving the Tax/Penalty).

Should you owe the Bank, instead of another player, more than you can pay (because of taxes or penalties) even by selling off buildings and mortgaging property, you must turn over all assets to the Bank.

Since the rules aren't very clear about the timing of "Selling Properties", and because they probably don't mean at any time is before resolving a players movement after they roll the dice, you will have to make some house rules. You will need to decide what Hasbro meant when they said "any time".

  • Mortgaging Unimproved Properties: This may be done at any time, including before having to pay rent/tax to the Bank ([only | or another player]).
  • Selling Houses: This may be done at any time, including before having to pay rent/tax to the Bank ([only | or another player])
  • Selling Property: This may only be done at any time other than after a player rolls the dice, but before they have paid ([Rent [and/or] Tax]) to ([another player [and/or] the Bank.])
  • Selling a "Get Out of Jail Free" card: This may only be done at any time other than after a player rolls the dice, but before they have paid ([Rent [and/or] Tax]) to ([another player [and/or] the Bank.])
  • Buying Houses/Hotels: This may only be done at any time other than after a player rolls the dice, but before they have paid ([Rent [and/or] Tax]) to ([another player [and/or] the Bank.])

I would personally restrict Selling Unimproved Property cards, Get Out of Jail cards, and Buying Houses to any time other than after dice rolls, and before resolving the rolls (as that is clearly the way that most people have played the game. Mortgaging Property, and selling Houses/Hotels can really occur at any time, even after die rolls but before resolving the die rolls.

Note: The iOS implementation of Monopoly, and the PSOne implementaion of this game do not allow buying houses/hotels, selling/proposing trades (including Get Out of Jail cards) after rolling dice but before resolving rent owed. It does allow selling houses/hotels and mortgaging properties to avoid going bankrupt after rolling dice but before paying rent, even when landing on another players property.

  • 1
    Isn't "buying houses" a separate step from "placing them on properties"? So, for example, you could choose to buy all remaining houses if another player is completing a color group, but you can't increase the rent of your properties through improvements during another player's turn?
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 1:40
  • 1
    @BenVoigt, according to the linked rules above, no. Buying Houses is immediately followed by erecting them. You must build evenly across a color group as well.
    – user1873
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 6:40
  • Bankruptcy is special because it takes you out of the game. If you're not playing any more, you can't take any in game actions...
    – Chris Dodd
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 0:53
  • @ChrisDodd, it is unusual that you are able to sell houses and mortgage property (which are actions that can be done at any time) even if you would still go bankrupt when paying a Tax/Penalty to the bank, but not when paying another player. You clearly do not go bankrupt, until you are unable to pay, and you can clearly take certain actions regardless of whether you could avoid bankruptcy. Why shouldn't selling property be included in actions you can take at any time as well?
    – user1873
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 2:39
  • @user1873: Implicit in the rules about selling properties is that you can only sell properties you own -- if you've gone bankrupt, you don't own any properties any more, and you go bankrupt as soon as someone (legally) asks you to pay a rent you can't afford.
    – Chris Dodd
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 23:27

From a link on boardgamegeek


To raise money to pay debts, only houses and hotels can be sold back to the bank (at half price) – never properties. If a debt is owed to another player, properties may be sold to a third player only if sufficient money is raised to cover the debt. If not, the properties are turned over as is (and not mortgaged if unmortgaged at the time the debt is incurred.)

If player 3 is willing to give player 2 enough money to stay in the game, I think it is poor form for her to refuse, and deliberately lose, so that player 1 can get her stuff.


If a player doesn't have enough cash on hand to meet a rent, or other obligation, the person can try to liquidate his holdings to raise sufficient cash:

1) Sell houses and hotels back to the bank for half price.

2) Mortgage properties to the bank for half price.

3) Liquidate other assets such as "get out of jail free" cards (if house rules allow it).

If after taking these steps, a player still can't meet his obligation, then he has to turn over his (mortgaged) property to the landowner or bank and leave the game.

It is therefore implied, although not stated, that you can sell unmortgaged property at, say, full value, either to the landlord, or to a third party.

Some landlords will agree to accept property at full (list) value, or at another agreed value toward the payment of rent, so that they get unmortgaged property. It's perfectly ok for a landlord to say, "You owe me $1,000, but if you give me $400 plus Boardwalk (List price, $400), we'll call it quits."

Otherwise, there might be a competition between the landlord and third parties to buy property from the renter at prices to be determined. In essence, a bankrupt player can put his property at auction to try to pay his bills, as one might do in real life. And the "strategic" value of the property might cause it to command more than list price. Even the idea of keeping a weakened player in the game might be a good strategy for some people.

The only caveat is that if the "auction" process doesn't raise enough money to pay the debt, the trades will have to be "undone," and the debtor has to turn over his "mortgaged" property to the landowner. (In a real bankruptcy proceeding, a trustee controls sales.) The "scorched earth" impact of the debtor's mortgaging all property gives the landlord (or third parties) an incentive to work out "deals."

"Selling" in this context is different from buying. You couldn't buy (build) a house on a property that someone has just landed on to jack up the rent in "real life;" the house has to have been built beforehand. Therefore you can't do so in Monopoly. But in "real life," a person that owes you rent could sell his own (existing) house(s) to meet this obligation.

And about the part of the third player overpaying on a property to keep the debtor in the game. That's likely to benefit the landlord. Let's say that the rent was $1,000 and the debtor could pay only $500 after mortgaging all his property. If the third party buys, say (mortgaged) Oriental Ave. (list value $100, mortgaged value $50) for $500, the landlord actually gets the full $1000 instead of just $500, with the difference coming out of the pocket of the third party. Of course, the third party may have a "strategic" reason to pay $500 for Oriental, either to complete or prevent a Monopoly, but that's just part of the game.

  • The "scorched earth" impact is 10%. This is hardly daunting.
    – Joshua
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 16:27
  • @Joshua: It's just enough for "legal" purposes in real life. For instance, your creditors can't repossess your IRA because of the 10% early withdrawal penalty. The one exception is the IRS, because they can waive the penalty.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 19:02

Our house rule was that the player owing the money could try to AUCTION off one or more of their properties to remain solvent. Everyone, including the player who is owed the money, could bid. Each property was dealt with, in turn, until the amount of the rent was covered. The player owning the money got to pick the order of the auctions.

The properties were set aside with the purchase cash on them until the various auctions were over. One nice thing about this is that no one, including the player owning the rent, could bid with money that they could not raise.

If there was not enough money to cover the debt, the player who was owed the money had the option to take the new amount of cash, or 'rollback' the auctions and take all the now bankrupt player's stuff instead.

This process seemed to prevent any game-altering favoritism.


It's not a violation of the games rules, but it seems to clearly violate the spirit of the game. If you're at the point where you're willing to resort to such things to penalize player 1 to that extent, why even bother finishing the game?


The standard rules are open enough to make a 3rd party trade allowable.
In googling around I find there are tourneyment rules that both explictly allow and others that specificaly restrict this behavior.
I saw a printed copy of offical world tourneyment rules where this was specifically allowed, but these rules seem to no longer be available on-line.
The MonopolyTourney.com site explicitly bars "side deals when a person is going bankrupt. The person may only be in transaction with the player who is bankrupting them.".The second part of this rule seems silly to me, as the player who is due rent has little stategic insentive to make a deal other than bankrupcy.
MonopolyTourney rules also include the Free Parking rule, which is popular but ruins strategic play, IMHO.
I would highly recommend allowing this behavior in a group that includes more stategic players.
It reduces the chances of a "lucky" bankruptcy from turning the tide in the game.

  • 1
    That link leads to house rules that put money on Free Parking. So not official Monopoly at all.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 22:40
  • Right, MonopolyTourney's position on this rule is discredited by their support of putting money in Free Parking.
    – Lee
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 21:23

Thought I'd pose another POV.
The question comes down to "Is the knowing the amount of cash a player (player #1) has demand-able by a landlord (player #2)?"

Without going into tournament rules, my understanding is that it is not required that the cash a player has must be public knowledge. If I erred here, ignore this answer. Note: This greatly affects bidding strategy.

If we go on the idea that cash-on-hand is private and now set-up the potential bankruptcy scene.

  1. Player #1 total hard assets (cash + 1/2 houses + amount available by mortgaging properties.) is $HardAssets. (We as ethereal judges know this amount.)
  2. Player #1 owes player #2 (or the bank) $Rent. (Everyone knows this.)

In responding to the $Rent demand, it is possible that only player #1 knows $HardAssets >= $Rent question's outcome. Further, even player #1 may not precisely know the answer either at that moment. If player #1 is obliged to answer this question to #2, before further play, it is akin to #2 demanding: "How much cash do you have?" of #1.

Going on the assumption "cash-on-hand is private", player #1 can proceed to, in order to raise $Rent, sell/mortgage property, Get-Out-Of-Jail, houses to the bank, make sweet-heart deals as player #1 can do on any other situation where bankruptcy is not an issue (because it is not known that this is a bankruptcy issue).

Should #1 fail to raise $Rent, player #2 has prior claim and thus all deals, sales are subject to #2's permission. This would usually result in all assets going though the rule's BANKRUPTCY instead.

  • This seems needlessly complicated. The very moment that the player starts making a deal, mortgages something, or sells a house, all players "know" that the player must not have the required cash on hand. (Besides, if the player pays up, and cash on hand is never known, then nobody ever knows if it was a bankruptcy situation or not, if at least one trade happened!) Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 2:02
  • @Paul Marshall Players make trades, deals, to prevent tearing down houses as that is a 50% mark-down - a big loss, so selling property is not in itself a bankruptcy declaration. A property sale to player #3 for a key title (key to #3) could well provide the needed cash, yet allow player #1 to retain a nice propertied set. Even selling select housing is not defeat. I agree with you on nobody knows that if a deal occurred and the player pays up, the otherwise bankruptcy is moot. Not sure why knowing that is important. They debt was paid - play resumed. Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 2:27
  • The trouble is that these trades can extend the game quite a bit; Monopoly has a long history of house rules that ensure the game never ends. If somebody is in a position to be eliminated, then they should be eliminated. If player #1 is going bankrupt to player #2, but player #3 arranges a deal that prevents the bankruptcy, then player #3 can potentially steal that bankruptcy and all of #1's assets on a future turn. Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 2:33
  • @Paul Marshal Agree with you about the potential effect on the game play. In your scenario, #2 is paid off though before play resumes. This answer was not trying to make the game faster/slower, but try to discern from the scant rule set an answer to the OP's question. Otherwise decisions made for more efficient/better game play are themselves house rules. Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 2:43

if a player owes to a landlord and does not have enough cash to pay the debt, but would be able to pay the debt in full after mortgaging properties they select, the player must do so (mortgage one or more properties) before making any deal with a third party to aquire funds for payment to the landlord that is owed.

Or said another way...

If a player sells a property to a third party before mortgaging to pay their current debts it creates a situation where players can skew markets unreasonably in dealing with a player that faces financial hardship due to rent or taxes/bank fees.

"A player in debt should not be able to sell park place at a discounted rate to a third party player who owns boardwalk so that a current debt can be paid to a landlord, or at least not without offering the same deal or value to the landlord who is owed first"

The indebted player must handle their affairs in order of priority, first being to pay rent due by way of using one current assets, cash or otherwise, and only then can deals can be made on mortgaged property if the player was able to avoid bankruptcy.

  • Is the quote in the middle of your answer taken from the rulebook? Some attribution would certainly help strengthen your answer. And welcome to B&CG!
    – SocioMatt
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 20:15

You are allowed to do this. But this kind of trade implies an agreement between the buyer and the vendor to make the player who is about to get the properties lose. So your case is a matter of fair play with the player who is about to get the properties.

In your case you decided to do such a thing against player 1 to make him lose. You did not cheat but you was not fair play too.

  • 2
    As the name «Monopoly» implies, the end-goal of the game is to bankrupt every other player and foreclose on everyone's assets - create a Monopoly. It is a ruthless capitalist game. Fair play means following the rules, period; nice guys finish last. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 14:32

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