Strictly following the rules of Monopoly will show that just because you have the cash to out-right buy hotels for your properties, you cannot if there are not enough houses in the bank to support an even build (ie, there are less than 12 in the bank for a 3 property street).

Likewise, when tearing-down hotels, there need to be an appropriate number of houses available to support the even tear-down (at least four houses to remove one hotel, and 8 more if you want to remove all of the improvements on a 3 property street).

What happens if you cannot tear-down your hotels because there are fewer than four houses in the bank (or fewer than 12 for the whole street)?

The scenario is not that far-fetched - a property group has been fully improved, some large rent is now due, and the player needs to recoup the sunk cost of their improvements to pay the rent due.

If they cannot tear-down the hotels, they cannot pay the rent. But property cannot be traded between players if improvements are on it.

What is the appropriate resolution to this case?

  • The monopoly house/hotel limit is awful. Playing with unlimited houses and hotels (using suitable replacement or pieces from a second Monopoly set) doesn't change the balance of the game and removes many stupid situations like this. – Zags Jul 6 '17 at 2:03
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    I heartily disagree, @Zags :: the house/hotel balance is highly beneficial to the overall flow of the game – warren Jul 6 '17 at 3:57
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    @Zags obviously, yours is the minority view. Strategic use of limited resources to bankrupt every other player (and debt then the ability to use resources because you have them tied up) is the point of the game. – warren Jul 7 '17 at 2:35
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    @Spivonious :: you're now only the 2nd person I've ever heard who plays without limiting the housing supply (along with Zags) - and yet I've hardly ever had a game go more than ~2 hours – warren Sep 13 '17 at 13:24
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    @Zags I'd argue that that doesn't indicate weakness of the rules, that argues that players are ignorant. Take UNO, for example. Few players play with the challenge rule for Wild Draw Four cards, yet the game is more balanced with it. – user45266 Nov 1 '18 at 5:08

The rules state:

When the Bank has no houses to sell, players wishing to build must wait for some player to return or sell his/her houses to the Bank before building.


Houses and hotels may be sold back to the Bank at any time for one-half the price paid for them.


All hotels on one color-group may be sold at once, or they may be sold one house at a time (one hotel equals five houses), evenly, in reverse of the manner in which they were erected.

I would say that if it is NOT possible to break up a hotel into four houses, you must sell all hotels at once, at half-face value for the entire purchase of each hotel and four houses, thus satisfying the condition "all hotels on one color-group may be sold at once".

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    At a minimum, I would say you should tear down all the hotels on a color group to the number of houses left in the bank, and evenly distribute those houses. – LittleBobbyTables - Au Revoir Oct 28 '10 at 2:38
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    @warren - That is the way the game works on the computer. You can not sell your hotel unless you can put houses back up. And you can not mortage a property that has been improved. – Chad Aug 1 '11 at 16:27
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    "or they may be sold one house at a time" To me, that reads that you can break up a hotel into houses. – Origami Robot Dec 6 '12 at 17:42
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    Normally you could, but not if there aren't houses to place.. that's what the question is about. See also boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/8049/…; same question. – GendoIkari Dec 6 '12 at 18:31
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    the OR means you normally have the choice, but obviously if there aren't enough houses, you can't take the choice of selling one house at a time and must instead sell "All hotels on one color-group at once" – Chris Dodd Dec 10 '12 at 17:21

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