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Building Inspection is open to the public by appointment only.

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Required Permits & Licenses

  • A Short Term Rental (STR) is the rental of any partial or whole structure for sleeping accommodations for less than 30 consecutive nights. In Wisconsin law, this type of operation is called a Tourist Rooming House (TRH).

  • You need three permits/licenses before you can operate or advertise a short term rental. Contact the department which issues each permit with questions about it:

    • Transient Room Tax Permit, issued by the Finance Department.

    • Dane County Hotel/Motel/Tourist Rooming House (TRH) LICHMD License. Issued by the Public Health Department.

    • ZTRHP permit. Issued by Zoning at Building Inspection (new as of October 2020). We will not issue a ZTRHP permit until you have the other two permits.

  • ZTRHP permitting year is July 1 to June 30 of the following year.
  • ZTRHP Fees: $100 one-time application fee and $100 annual permit fee.

Regulations for the Zoning Tourist Rooming House Permit ZTRHP1?

  • Obtain a valid ZTRHP Permit before advertising or renting out any TRH unit. Zoning, at City of Madison Building Inspection, manages these permits.

    • We issue permits to specific hosts for specific dwelling units.

    • Permit is not transferrable.

    • Permit allows only the permit holder to operate a short-term rental home in the dwelling unit.

  • Display a valid ZTRHP permit number in all TRH ads.

  • The TRH must be the host’s primary dwelling while operating a TRH and for the 12 consecutive months prior to beginning operation of a TRH.*
  • Operate a TRH as the property owner OR a renter whose lease explicitly allows it.
  • If the operator does not occupy the dwelling during the rental, operate the TRH no more than thirty days per licensing year. The licensing year runs from July 1 to June 30.*
  • If the operator occupies the dwelling at the time of rental, there is no limit to the number of days the Tourist Rooming House may operate.*
  • May host two or more individuals with separate bookings at the same TRH on any shared date if host remains on site each night.*
  • Building Inspection will contact ZTRHP applicant to schedule a home visit before ZTRHP permit approval. Staff will go all through habitable spaces of dwelling unit, including spaces that will not be rented to guests, in order to verify floor plans and bedroom counts. Staff will also discuss ZTRHP regulations with hosts, and answer questions.
  • Provide host name on advertisements and websites that matches the permit holder name.
  • Verify photo ID for operator and all owners of the TRH property.
  • Abide by guest occupancy limits. Maximum guest occupancy is the lesser of: twice the number of legal bedrooms OR 12. Children under the age of 12 do not counted toward the guest occupancy count. See bedroom definition on Form ZTRHP1-F.
  • Maintain a registry on-site for inspection. The registry must include information from the current year and the year before. Registry must show:
    • Name and contact information of the person who made each reservation.
    • Dates of stay
    • Whether operator was on or off site each night.
  • Submit Quarterly Reporting (QR) to Zoning within one month after a quarter ends but do not submit before the quarter ends. QR reporting due dates are Feb. 1, May 1, Aug. 1 and Nov. 1, and must include the following items:
    • List of websites and places the host has advertised the TRH in the previous quarter.
    • Name and contact information of the person who made each reservation.
    • Dates of stay for all guests during the previous quarter.
    • Whether host was on or off site each night.
    • Initial applications also request this information. If host has never advertised or hosted, “No advertising” and “No rentals” must be entered onto the application forms requesting this information.
  • Follow zoning regulations. Violations of regulations subject to fines of $500-$1000 per day. Violations may lead us to revoke the ZTRHP permit. We may revoke the ZTRHP permit if an operator misses two quarterly reporting deadlines or for incomplete QR forms or other violations. If we have revoked the permit, violation fines are doubled.
  • Report changes immediately to stay in compliance. For example, changes to floor plan, primary residence, property owner, contact information, or anything else that differs from what Zoning has on file for your ZTRHP permit.
  • Contact Zoning to disclose any changes before renewing ZTRHP permit. If there are no changes, submit a statement to Zoning that states there are no changes to the information already on file for your ZTRHP permit. Before renewing the permit, Zoning may conduct a re-inspection.

*If TRH only operates with night stays between seven (7) and 29 consecutive nights, hosts may have more options. If host will always only operate and advertise for stays of more than seven consecutive nights, inquire at Zoning about all regulations for this option.


Last Updated: 12/08/2023

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Permit & License Required

Currently, all TRH operators must have a valid TRH license from Public Health before advertising or renting out any short-term rental. As of 10/1/20, all operators must also have a valid Zoning Tourist Rooming House Permit (ZTRHP).


Remember - If you are unsure, ask the Zoning Staff

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