Taken from: Livingston, S. A. and Stoll, C.S. "The Inner-city Housing Game" from Simulations Games: An Introduction for the Social Studies Teacher. New York: The Free Press, 1973. pp.40-43.
Grade Level: 7-10
Time Needed: 80-120 minutes for at least two rounds of game play (alternating roles) and discussion.
Introduction: This game is a simulation game for 6 to 10 players, but can accommodate up to 20 if players double up, two players to a role. The intention of this game is to familiarize players with some of the many housing problems faced by those living in the inner city and/or below the poverty line. After playing the game, players should become aware of the following:
1. Rents in the inner city are limited by the tenants’ ability to pay.
2. Maintenance costs for inner city housing are high.
3. Landlords suffer heavily from vandalism and theft when dwellings are vacant.
4. Damage to rented houses or apartments is often caused by children.
5. Housing code enforcement through the criminal courts is always slow and often
6. City inspections almost always cause the landlord to be cited for violations in addition to the problem that led the tenant to request an inspection.
7. The housing code violations that are hardest on the tenants are not always the ones that cost the most to correct.
The developer of the game recognizes that problems and costs associated with inner-city housing vary from city to city; various changes can be made to accommodate conflicting laws, regulations and costs.
Object: The game has two kinds of players—the landlords and the tenants. The landlords’ goal is to make as much money as possible. The tenants’ goal is to get as many points as possible. The points that the tenants get represent the value of providing shelter for them and their families. At the end of the game there will be two winners—the landlord with the most money and the tenant with the most points.
Order of Play: Each round of the game represents one month of real time. Each month follows this sequence of events:
1. Tenants receive income and pay expenses (draw chance card first)
3. Rent Collection
5. Landlords pay expenses
6. Wear and Tear
7. City Inspections and housing court trials
8. Tenants’ point score
9. Rent changes (landlords may give notice tenants notice to quit)
Each step must be completed for all players before the next has begun.
To Start: Divide players into landlords, tenants and banker according to the following table:
|Number of players||Landlords||Tenants||Banker|
Each tenant receives a tenant card and a profile card. Each landlord receives an expense card and $189 in cash. The rest of the money goes into the bank. The house cards—one for each landlord—are placed in the center of the table. The banker receives a copy of the rules and the Housing Court judge’s instructions.
Each house is divided into two apartments. The game begins with all apartments vacant. A landlord may rent an apartment to any tenant for any rent the two can agree on. When a tenant has rented an apartment, he puts his/her tenant card on the landlord’s house card to show where he or she is living. Two tenant families may not share the same apartment. There is five minute time limit for finding apartments. Any apartment that is not rented stays vacant for the first month, and any tenant not living in an apartment must live with relatives for the first month and keep his or he tenant card.
Tenant Income and Expenses
Each tenant first draws a chance card and reads it aloud. This card may affect the amount the amount of money he or she will pay for expenses. Tenants then collect monthly income from the banker and pays back to the banker any monthly expenses (not including rent). These amounts are listed on the tenant’s profile card (although they may be affected by the chance card)
Note: The tenant should not pay his or her rent until he or she has decided whether or not to move.
The banker flips a coin once for each tenant, to let the tenant know how much it will cost him/her to move this month.
A tenant who wants to move must then find an apartment and come to an agreement with the landlord about the rent. Then he/she pays his moving expenses to the bank and moves his tenant card to the house where he will be living. If he/she will be living with relatives, he keeps his tenant card.
Rent Collection: A tenant who is renting an apartment pays his/her rent directly to the landlord. If the tenant does not have the money to pay the rent, or if the tenant feels he or she cannot afford to pay the rent, he or she can ask the landlord to accept less that month. If the landlord is not willing to accept less than the full amount, the landlord may pay the bank $3 for a rent notice that requires the tenant to pay all the rent he or she owes next month or be evicted.
Exception: During the last round of the game, the tenant must pay the full rent or move out.
Eviction: If a tenant has ignored a rent notice, the landlord must wait one month before evicting him/her. If the tenant then does not pay all the rent he/she owes, the landlord may evict him/her by paying the bank $35 to cover the costs of moving the tenant’s furniture out into the street.
If a tenant has ignored a 60-day notice to quit (see rent changes) and two months have passed since the landlord gave the tenant the notice, the landlord may evict the tenant by paying the bank $35 to cover the cost of moving the tenant’s furniture out into the street.
As soon as a tenant has been evicted, he/she must move. First the tenant must pay the moving expenses to the bank. If the tenant does not have enough money, then he/she must pay the bank all the money he/she has. Then the tenant must either find an apartment or move in with relatives (keeping the tenant card).
Landlords’ Expenses: Each month the landlord must pay the bank the expenses indicated on his house card. If the landlord does not have enough money to pay his/her expenses, the landlord may borrow from the bank—for every $100, $110 must be paid back at the end of the game.
Wear and Tear: Each tenant who is renting an apartment draws a wear and tear card and reads it aloud to the group (House 1 first, then 2, 3, etc). This card tells whether any repairs to the house are necessary. It also tells what will happen if the repairs are not made. Unless the card says otherwise, the information applies only to the apartment of the tenant who draws the card. Repairs to the apartment of the apartment are the landlord’s responsibility, unless the tenant caused the damage. If the landlord decides to make the repairs, he/she pays the correct the amount of money to the bank and puts the card back in the pile. If the landlord refuses to make repairs, the tenant can pay for them him/herself if he/she wants to and has the money. The players have 2 minutes to decide whether to make the repairs and who will pay from them. If nobody has paid for the repairs at the end of the two minutes, the wear and tear card stays with the house.
At this time, any landlord who has a vacant apartment must draw a vacancy card. This card will indicate repairs that are necessary as a result of vandalism. The vacancy card stays with the apartment until repairs are made.
If both the apartments are vacant, the landlord must draw a house-empty card, instead of two vacancy cards. Damages listed on this card apply to both apartments. If the house already has a house-empty card, the landlord does not have to draw another one.
If a wear and tear card on a vacancy card lists the same kind of damage as a card that is already with the apartment, the card showing the lower cost of repair is returned to the deck.
City Inspections and Housing Court Trials: Whenever a landlord refuses to make repairs the tenant may request a city inspection. The landlord must then draw a city inspection card and put it with the house. This card lists the number of additional violations discovered by the inspection and the cost of correcting them.
The landlord has three months to pay for the repairs listed on both the wear and tear and the city inspection card. Otherwise he/she goes on trial in the Housing Court. The banker acts as a judge and conducts the trial according to the judge’s instructions. The banker/judge announces the fine the landlord must pay. The landlord must pay the fine immediately (to the bank). He/she then has another three months to make repairs or go on trial again.
Tenants Point Score: The banker writes each tenant’s score for the month on the score sheet. The number of points the tenant gets depends on where he/she is living. The number that goes on the score sheet is the amount shown on the tenant card, minus any points the tenant loses because of wear and tear cards. The number—the amount left after the subtraction—the tenant’s score for the month.
Rent Changes: Whenever an apartment is vacant, the landlord can rent it to a tenant for any rent they can agree on. After the tenant has moved in, the landlord cannot raise the rent unless the tenant either moves out or agrees to let the landlord raise the rent. However, the landlord can terminate a tenant’s lease without giving any reason, if he/she gives the tenant a 60-day notice to quit two months in advance. Then tenant must then move out in two months or be evicted.
Ending the Game: The game can last for any number of rounds. The players can agree in advance whether to play for a certain length of time or a certain number of rounds. The last round ends after the tenants have received their monthly income. The final scores are figure as follows (space provided on the score sheet for calculations):
Tenants: Add up your points for all the rounds that have been played. Then add one point for each dollar you have left. This gives you your unadjusted score. Now add up all the points from wear and tear cards and vacancy cards that belong to the apartment you are living in. Multiply the number by 10 and subtract that amount from your unadjusted score to get your actual score. If you are living with relatives, subtract 200 points from your unadjusted score to get your actual score.
Landlords: Count your money. Subtract the amount you owe to the bank ($110 for every $100 you borrowed). This gives your unadjusted score. Now look at the wear and tear, vacancy, and empty-house cards that are with your house. Subtract the sum of the cost of repairs listed on these cards from your unadjusted score. But first look in the upper right corner of each card. If the figure ½ is there you should subtract only half the cost of repairs given on that card. If the number 2 appears, subtract twice the cost of repairs given on that card. After you have subtracted the proper amount for all the cards, you have your actual score.
Housing Court Judge’s Instructions: Look at the number of violations on the city inspection card. Find out if the landlord has repaired the problem that led the tenant to ask for the inspection in the first place. (Is the wear and tear card still in the house?) Then flip a coin to determine which of the following lists to read for the amount of the fine.
|Original problem repaired||Original problem not repaired|
|0-4 additional violations||$15||$45||$25||$55|
|5-9 additional violations||$85||$55||$105||$65|
|10 or more violations||$105||$125||$125||$155|
Sample Cards Required for game (these can be altered to suit your particular needs):
1. House Cards:
2. Landlord Profile (sorry about the blurriness)
3. Tenant Profile
4. Wear and Tear Cards:
5. House Empty Cards:
7.City Inspection Cards:
8. Chance Cards: