What Happens When You Run Out of Houses or Hotels in Monopoly?

The Game Comes With Only 32 Houses and 12 Hotels

Heartbreak Hotel
What happens when you run out of hotels and houses in Monopoly?. Andrew Gustar/Flickr

The popular board game Monopoly comes with a limited supply of 32 houses and 12 hotels that players can purchase to enhance their properties and increase the rent they charge other players. When the buildings have been purchased and are in use in the game, no more houses and hotels can be bought.

How Houses and Hotels Return to the Monopoly Bank

As the game continues, it is likely that some houses and hotels will be returned to the bank and become available for purchase again.

This happens when:

  • A player goes bankrupt and returns his houses and hotels to the bank
  • A player chooses to sell his houses or hotels back to the bank at half the purchase price to pay a bill
  • A player buys a hotel and returns the houses that were previously on the property to the bank

When houses or hotels are returned to the bank, they are available for purchase by any player at their original price. If more than one player wants to purchase the same buildings, bidding commences and the buildings go to the highest bidder.

If a player wants to build a house on a property and no houses are available, he can't build. The same is true if a player wants to build a hotel and no hotels are available.

House Rules Related to Houses and Hotels

House rules are informal rules that are agreed upon by the players before the beginning of the game. Monopoly players have come up with many house rules over the years; among them are a few that relate to a shortage of houses and hotels.

They include:

  • Allowing the purchase of unlimited houses and hotels and using a replacement token (such as a coin) to represent the purchase after all the buildings have been purchased from the bank
  • Allowing a player to purchase a hotel without first buying houses (when there are no houses available) by paying five times the purchase price of the hotel—the equivalent of buying four houses and then the hotel