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Short-Term Rentals

(Tourist Rooming Houses)

Rental of a whole or partial residence to visitors for less than a month is commonly known as a Short-Term Rental (STR). Its legal term in Wisconsin is a Tourist Rooming House (TRH). Due to the growing popularity of house sharing and vacation rental websites which match visitors with residential host locations, many Wisconsin residents are offering short-term rentals in their homes. Wisconsin allows the rental of one to four sleeping accommodations, which can be rooms of a home or an entire home or cabin. All Dane County Tourist Rooming Houses must be licensed through Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) and inspected annually to verify the operation meets all requirements of Wisconsin law related to general public health.

How to get Licensed

1. Zoning & Taxes

  • Zoning: Find out if there are zoning conditions that must be met.
  • Seller's Permit: Obtain a Wisconsin Seller's Permit.
  • Room Tax: Register with your local clerk if your municipality collects room taxes.
    • City of Madison: Fill out the Room Tax Registration form. Learn when Room Tax Exemptions apply to guests.
    • Dane County: (outside the City of Madison) Contact your municipal or township clerk to find out whether your municipality collects room tax and obtain a Room Tax Certificate if required.

2. Apply for a License

3. Schedule an Inspection

  • Contact PHMDC to schedule a pre-inspection of your property. License approval must be completed prior to renting out sleeping accommodations.


Complaints about short-term rentals in Dane County can be made by calling 608-242-6515 or emailing
Key Contacts
(608) 266-4821