The article examines a number of statutes (of the 17th and 18th Centuries) of Siena's contradas, represented as "universitates habitatorum". Urban inhabitants, natives and building owners could take part in contrada meetings and become office bearers. For the more important positions ("Priore" [Prior], "Consigliere" [Councillor] and "Camarlengo" [Chamberlain]) a prolonged period of residence in the contrada could be required. The two contradas of "Chiocciola" [Snail] and "Tartuca" [Tortoise] particularly sought solvent tenants: the contradas had little real estate and whoever managed the housing was monitored by the council (who had to be kept informed of the condition of the houses and would authorize any renovation needed). Rent could be bartered in exchange for goods and services given to the contrada. Contrada-owned churches and the houses adjoining them used as sacristies or for storage, however, were managed along different, extra-economic lines. The contrada's desire for autonomy, away from other bodies, their wish for greater social visibility and their strong ties to the area induced them to invest heavily in these properties and this was often the cause of major internal conflict. Based on documents from the contrada archives of Siena (especially council decisions and rent registers) and secondary sources.