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Short-Term Rentals

What is a Tourist Rooming House (TRH)? A short-term rental, or a rental for fewer than 30 nights of any partial or whole structure for sleeping accommodations, is called a Tourist Rooming House (TRH) in Wisconsin law. Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, and are a few online business platforms that connect hosts and travelers.


REQUIRED: Zoning Tourist Rooming House Permit (ZTRHP) Currently, all Tourist Rooming Houses (TRHs) must have a Tourist Rooming House license from Public Health before advertising or renting out any short-term rental. As of Spring 2020, a Zoning Tourist Rooming House Permit (ZTRHP) is also required, but time is being allotted to acquire that permit. As of 10/1/20, all TRH operators must have obtained a valid Zoning Tourist Rooming House Permit (ZTRHP) and that permit number must be displayed in all advertisings. Operators must have a Public Health TRH license before applying for the ZTRHP permit.


Why have regulations? Websites such as Airbnb and VRBO connect homeowners with people who need a place to stay when they’re traveling. Many homeowners use these platforms for intermittent on-the-side rentals. Some property owners, though, have gone far beyond this modest ideal. These owners use the web platforms to operate de-facto hotels. Others are buying property with the sole purpose of using it as a short-term rental. Taken to extreme, short-term rentals affect neighboring property owners, change a neighborhood's character, and limit 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.

Last Updated: 11/19/2020

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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

Translation Services

For interpreter, translator, materials in alternate formats or other accommodations, please call the Building Inspection Division at (608) 266-4551.

Español: Si necesita interprete, traductor, materiales en diferentes formatos, u otro tipo de ayuda para acceder a estos formularios, por favor llame al (608) 266-4551.

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