Websites such as Airbnb and VRBO connect homeowners with people who need a place to stay when they’re traveling. Though many homeowners use these platforms for intermittent on-the-side rentals, some property owners have gone far beyond this modest ideal. In some parts of the country, property owners are using these web platforms to operate de facto hotels, and people are buying property with the sole purpose of using it as a short-term rental. Taken to these more extensive lengths, short-term rentals have a substantial effect on neighboring property owners, changing the character of a neighborhood, and limiting the stock of affordable housing.

Madison has enacted ordinances that seek to strike a balance between the competing rights of property owners. Under city ordinance, homeowners or renters can earn some extra money renting out space in the dwelling they occupy, but reasonable restrictions ensure that neighbors retain the right to control the type of neighborhood they are living in.

Who may rent, and how often:

  1. You may only rent a property if it is your primary residence.
  2. The property can only be offered for rental by the owner or a renter who is explicitly authorized in the lease.
  3. If the operator occupies the residence at the time of the rental, there is no limit on the number of days the residence may be rented.
  4. If the operator does not occupy the residence at the time of rental, the the residence may be rented no more than thirty (30) days per licensing year; July 1 to June 30th.

What do I need to do:
There are four main agencies that property owners should check with before offering their property for short-term rental:

  • Zoning: Most residential areas in the City of Madison allow short-term rentals. Contact City of Madison Zoning at (608) 266-4551 to ensure that this activity is allowed in your area, and to discuss conditions that may need to be met. For example, the maximum tourist occupancy must comply with maximum family occupancy rules in the underlying zoning district regulations. FAQ: Tourist Rooming House Information
  • Department of Revenue: Short-term rentals are subject to state sales tax. Contact Wisconsin Department of Revenue to obtain a sellers permit.
  • Public Health: State law requires the establishment to have a current license from Public Health Madison and Dane County, see Wis. Admin. Code ch. ATCP 72. Download and fill-out the License Application for Lodging, Pool and Body: English and Español and view the License Fee Schedule - Public Health for Lodging, Pool and Body Art. The City of Madison Clerk operates as the fiscal agent for the Public Health department, so the application and fee should be submitted to the Madison City Clerk’s office.

    Submit in-person

    City Clerk's Office
    City-County Building
    210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
    Room 103
    Madison, WI 53703-3342
    Licensing Hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 4:00pm
    Get Directions

    Submit by mail

    Please make checks payable and send to:
    City of Madison Treasurer
    PO Box 2999
    Madison, WI 53701

  • City Treasurer: Owner must register with Treasurer’s office and pay room tax as required under Sec. 4.21, MGO and download and fill-out application. View details about this application, and who must fill it out.

    Submit in-person

    City of Madison Treasurer's Office
    City-County Building
    210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
    Room 107
    Madison, WI 53703-3342
    Mon - Fri: 8am - 4:30pm
    Get Directions

    Submit by mail

    Please make checks payable and send to:
    City of Madison Treasurer
    PO Box 2999
    Madison, WI 53701