6-Step Guide to Short-Term Rentals

Renting your home or property on Airbnb or VRBO as a short-term rental can be a great way to earn additional income. It’s important to make sure you’re going through the proper process to ensure the protection of both yourself and your guests. This guide takes you step-by-step through getting your property ready to rent to visitors. 

If you’re not sure short-term rentals are for you, check out our list of Things to Know Before You List, which gives you an idea of all the things property owners must consider before renting out their homes.

Step 1: Review the Guidelines

Be sure to check out guidelines from the State of Wisconsin to set yourself up for success with your short-term rental.

The Wisconsin Administrative Code ATCP 72 defines rules, policies, and health regulations related to opening a property for short-term rentals, also known as a Tourist Rooming House (TRH).

Step 2: Apply for a Brown County License & Arrange a Pre-Licensing Inspection 

Before you can offer your property for short-term rental to visitors, you need to apply for a license through Brown County.

Complete the application here

The Brown County Public Health Division is the official licensing and inspection agent for Tourist Rooming Houses in Brown County. After your application has been processed, you can expect a call or email from an inspector. The person will help you set up a date and time for the pre-licensing inspection. The inspection must be completed and passed for your application to be approved. This checklist outlines some items covered in the pre-licensing inspection. 

Applicants for Tourist Rooming Houses will incur a fee of $350, plus fees for the pre-inspection. If properties are listed without a license, property owners are subject to fines of up to $500. 

Other detailed guidance requirements can be found at the following links:

Step 3: Contact the State of Wisconsin for a Seller's Permit

Next, you may need to obtain a seller’s permit from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. A seller’s permit is required for every individual, partnership, corporation, or other organization making retail sales, leases, or rentals of tangible personal property or taxable services in Wisconsin unless all sales are exempt from sales or use tax.

In a 365-day calendar year, if you anticipate earning:

  • Less than $2,000 from short-term rentals, no seller’s permit is required.
  • $2,000 or more from short-term rentals, you must apply for a seller’s permit.

Visit the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's page for seller’s permit information.

Step 4: Confirm Local Requirements

Contact your municipality (city, village, or town) to learn what local requirements your property location has for short-term rentals. Some municipalities will require a short-term rental license, separate from the Brown County Health Department license in Step 2. Properties listed without following municipal approval may incur fines of up to $2,500 pending the municipality. 

Not sure where to start? Below is a list of municipal contacts and specific short-term rental information depending on where your home is located:
Village of Allouez

Village of Ashwaubenon

Village of Bellevue

City of De Pere

City of Green Bay

Village of Hobart

Village of Howard

  • Check back soon for an email and short-term rental information

Town of Ledgeview 

Oneida Nation

  • Check back soon for an email and short-term rental information

Village of Suamico

Town of Scott

  • Check back soon for an email and short-term rental information

Village of Wrightstown

Kewaunee County

  • Check back soon for an email and short-term rental information

Step 5: Contact your Homeowner’s Insurance

It is imperative, for the protection of yourself and your guests, to meet with your homeowner’s insurance agent to make sure your plan covers short and/or long-term rental situations. This coverage is not offered by all insurance companies so making sure you are covered before a loss occurs is important. Coverage options have many variables. What is recommended for an 800 sq ft home will be completely different than what you would see recommended for a 3,500 sq ft residence.

Step 6: List your Property

The final step is to list your property on a third-party site where visitors can book their stay. Popular sites include airbnb.com, vrbo.com, and booking.com. Please note that booking.com only allowed for completely private sites, meaning you cannot reside on the property while guests are staying there. 

Before entering this step, make sure you have completed and/or received the following:

  • Reviewed all guidelines and policies regarding short-term rentals
  • Completed your Brown County Application and Completed and Passed the Pre-Licensing Inspection
  • Received confirmation that your Brown County license has been released
  • Contact your municipality for any special required documents or actions you need to take.
  • Met with your homeowner's insurance provider to make sure you are covered for short-term rentals
  • Obtained a Wisconsin Seller’s Permit


More Short-Term Rental Info