Short-Term Rentals

short term rental

We Inspect and License All Dane County Short Term Rentals

All Dane County Short-Term Rentals must be licensed and inspected each year. We do this to make sure they meet all requirements of Wisconsin law related to general public health.

You can read our inspection reports for short-term rentals. They tell you the conditions we saw at the time of inspection. Reports may not reflect corrective actions the establishment made or the current condition.

Look up health inspection reports

What is a Short-Term Rental?

Rental of all or part of a 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. Wisconsin allows the rental of one to four sleeping accommodations, which can be rooms of a home or an entire home or cabin.

How to Get Your Short-Term Rental Licensed

Before you can offer short-term rentals, you must get a Tourist Rooming House license from us. We must do a pre-inspection before your new license can be approved. We must do a health inspection once every licensing year to make sure you are in compliance with the law.

The licensing year is from July 1 to June 30 of each year. If your license is approved in April, May, or June, the license is valid until the end of the following licensing year, on June 30.

  1. Find out if you need to meet zoning conditions

    • For the City of Madison: Call Madison Zoning at (608) 266-4551. Read the Zoning FAQ for Tourist Room Houses.
    • For Dane County (outside the City of Madison): Contact your municipal or township clerk.
    • Check other contracts and rules you may be subject to, like tenant organizations, lease agreements, or cooperative, cohousing, condominium and homeowner association rules.
  2. Get a Wisconsin seller’s permit

    Apply for a Wisconsin seller's permit.

    Exception: If you are renting only through Airbnb and/or VRBO, you don’t need a seller’s permit. Write “Airbnb/VRBO only” in this field on your license application form.

  3. Register to pay taxes

    Room Tax

    Register with your local clerk if your municipality collects room taxes.

    Exception: Airbnb & VRBO collect and remit sales tax throughout Wisconsin and room tax within the City of Madison. If you are renting only through Airbnb &/or VRBO, there is no fee for room tax registration in the City of Madison. Check the box saying “my business is not subject to the Madison Transient Room Tax” on the room tax registration form.

    Wisconsin Sales Tax

    You must report and pay Wisconsin sales tax. Dane County is subject to 5.5% sales tax (5% state, 0.5% county).


    • If your taxable sales are less than $1,000 in a calendar year, an occasional sales exemption may apply to the sales.
    • Airbnb automatically collects and submits sales tax. Sales tax payments are not necessary if you are renting only through Airbnb.
  4. Apply for a license

    For all short-term rentals in Dane County:

  5. Schedule an inspection

    Steps 1-4 must be done first.

    For all short-term rentals in Dane County:

    • Call (608) 242-6515 or email us to schedule a pre-inspection of your property. 
    • Your license must be approved before you can rent out sleeping accommodations.

We want to better serve you! Fill out our 2-minute anonymous feedback survey about your health inspection.

How to De-Activate Your Airbnb or VRBO Listing

No longer providing short-term rentals? Remove your listing by deactivating it. Removing all future reservation dates is not enough, because your listing will still appear online. Deactivating won’t delete your reviews on Airbnb.


Call (608) 242-6515 or email us with complaints about short-term rentals in Dane County.


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