short term rentalRental 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.

You can read inspection reports for short-term rentals. These reports give you information on the conditions we saw at the time of inspection. Reports may not reflect corrective actions the establishment made, or the current condition.


How to Get Licensed (Steps must be completed in order)

  1. Zoning and Taxes

    Zoning: Find out if there are zoning conditions that must be met.;

    • City of Madison: Contact Madison Zoning at (608) 266-4551.  Read the Zoning FAQ for Tourist Room Houses.
    • Dane County (outside the City of Madison): Contact your municipal or township clerk.

    Sellers Permit*: Obtain a Wisconsin Seller’s Permit.

    Room Tax*: Register with your local clerk if your municipality collects room taxes.

    Exceptions: Airbnb collects and remits sales tax throughout Wisconsin and room tax within the City of Madison. If you are renting solely through Airbnb, a Seller's Permit is not needed (write "Airbnb only" in this field on the License Application form), and 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.

  2. Apply for a license

    Submit a PHMDC lodging license application with proper payment. See the License Fee Schedule and complete the License Application.

  3. Schedule an inspection

    Steps 1 & 2 must be done first.

    Contact us at or (608) 242-6515 to schedule a pre-inspection of your property.  After the approved pre-inspection, you will receive the license and be able to rent out sleeping accommodations.

Community Workshop Presentation

How to License Your Home for Airbnb-type Rentals in the City of Madison


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