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    Complete Guide to Short Term Rentals

    Are you thinking about listing your Portage County home or property for short-term rental but don’t know where to start? Look no further! This guide takes you step by step through the process of 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. 

    Want a print-friendly version of this guide? Download the guide to short term rentals here.




    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: Start Local 

    Contact your local zoning office or municipality to learn what local requirements your area has for short term rentals.

    Not sure where to start?  

    Step 3: Apply for a License 

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

    You can find the application here: Portage County Lodging Application

    Be sure to mail in your completed application AND payment to:

    Portage County Health & Human Services
    817 Whiting Avenue
    Stevens Point, WI 54481

    NOTE: It will take a minimum of 10 business days to process your application!

    The Portage County Department of Health and Human Services is the official licensing agent for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

    Step 4: Arrange a Pre-Licensing Inspection 

    After your application has been processed, you can expect a call or email from an inspector. 

    This 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. 

    The licensing year is from July 1 to June 30 each year. 

    • A health inspection will occur once every licensing year after that to ensure continued compliance with the law
    • If an initial license is approved in April, May, or June the license will be valid until the end of the following year, on June 30. 

    Step 5: Obtain a Zoning Permit

    If you plan to rent out the property for more than 10 days in a 365-day calendar year Zoning Permits through Portage County are required. 

    Before filling out the Zoning Permit Application, check out the Zoning Permit Procedures for Portage County Zoning for all requirements.

    Then, fill out a Portage County Zoning Permit Application and mail the completed form to:

    ​Portage County Planning and Zoning Department 
    1462 Strongs Avenue
    Stevens Point, WI 54481

    Step 6: Contact the State 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 this page for seller's permit information: Wisconsin Department of Revenue 

    Step 7: List Your Property 

    The final step is to list your property on a third-party site where visitors can book their stay. 

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

    1. Reviewed all guidelines and policies regarding short term rentals
    2. Contacted your municipality for any special required documents or actions you need to take
    3. Mailed  in your Portage County Lodging Application and payment
    4. Completed and passed the Pre-Licensing Inspection
    5. Received notice that your Portage County Lodging Application has been approved
    6. Obtained a Wisconsin Seller's Permit

    There are many online sites people use to post their listings including, and

    NOTE: only allows for completely private sites, meaning you cannot reside on the property while guests are staying there. 

    These are just three examples of sites that you can list your property on. It's important that you find the right fit for you and what you want to accomplish with renting out your property. 


    Learn industry definitions, who to contact, and more with our FAQ.

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    Looking for more information about what to do behind the scenes? Check out our Things to Know Before You List page, where we walk you through what each property owner should consider before setting up a short term rental.