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Things to Know Before You List Your Property for Short Term Rental

Do you have some questions about what it really takes to get a property ready for short term rental? Are you wondering if you have the right amount of smoke detectors, or the right kind of septic system, or even enough sleeping areas for your guests? Here we've laid out some things to think about before you list your property for visitors to rent.

Looking for where to start to get approval to list a short term rental? Check out our Complete Guide to Short Term Rentals for each step you need to take in order to run an effective short term rental property. 

Header Photo Credit: Carla Minsky


General Considerations

  • All guests must register their true names and addresses into a registry that must be available to inspectors for current and prior year. Digital registry is acceptable.
  • One smoke detector per home is required. One smoke detector on each level and in each sleeping room is recommended.
  • One carbon monoxide (CO2) detector per home is required if there is an attached garage or fuel burning device. One CO2 detector on each level is recommended. 
  • Railings on decks, patios and balconies more than 24" off the ground must be at least 36" tall. Gaps cannot be larger than 4".
  • Staircases with more than 3 risers must have securely fastened handrails.
  • Hot tubs and swimming pools are not allowed. Only fill and drain whirlpool bathtubs are permissible.
  • Recommend providing 1 fire extinguisher per cabin or cottage.
  • Pools and hot tubs located in TRH’s are currently not under regulatory jurisdiction.

Water Supply and Waste Disposal Considerations

  • If an approved public water supply and approved public sewage facility is available to the premise, connection and use are required.
  • A septic system is permitted when a public sewer facility is not available to the premise. The system shall be located on the premise and shall be designed, constructed and operated in accordance with Wisconsin Administrative Code ATCP 72 ch. SPS 382 and 383.
  • A private well is permitted as a source of water when a public water facility is not available to the premise. Wells must be constructed, and the pump installed in accordance with ch. NR 812.
  • The well water will be sampled by PCHHS for bacteria and nitrate annually.

Kitchen Considerations

  • No food can be offered except for pre-packaged, shelf stable items and fresh fruits and vegetables from an approved source.
  • If ice is offered, use a refrigerator ice dispenser, or provide an empty, sanitized ice cube tray for each separate guest. Reach in bins are not allowed for guest use unless emptied and sanitized before guest use. (mechanically dispensing type?)
  • Wash cups, plates, silverware and pans after each use and sanitize between different guests using either method:
    • NSF-certified sanitizing dish machine.
    • Wash, rinse and then soak dishes/utensils for 30 seconds in a basin containing 1 tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water OR facility can post sign with bleach sanitization method.

Bathroom Considerations

  • Each guest sleeping room has its own designated full bathroom that can be shared with hosts, or two separate, designated men’s and women’s full bathrooms for all guests and hosts to share, although families can use any bathroom regardless of gender. If all guestrooms are rented to one reservation party, then only one full bathroom is needed.
  • Each guest bathroom is supplied with separate soap and towels. Shared soap and other toiletries are permissible if in dispensers or bottles which prevent cross contamination.
  • Hot and cold running water under pressure at all sinks.
  • Slip-resistant flooring is required in showers and bathtubs or have slip-resistant mats available.
  • All bathrooms must have vent fan or openable window.

Guest Sleeping Room Considerations

  • Guest beds must have a mattress pad.
  • All guest bed top sheets must have a 12” fold back over top of blanket.
  • Pillowslips, sheets, towels and washcloths must be washed between guests and at least once per week.
  • The use of quilts and comforters which are not machine washable is not permitted.
  • Individual locks on guest sleeping room doors are required unless entire home is rented to one reservation party or home has only one guest room. Doors must be key locking from the outside and non-key locking from the inside.
  • All guest sleeping room windows and doors that open to the outside must have screens. 

The above considerations are from the Portage County Tourist Rooming House Checklist

Will you be staying on the premises at the same time?

  • If so, where? How will you still give guests their privacy?
  • If not, where will you stay for the time being?

Note: Some listing sites only allow "private" bookings, meaning the property owner may not reside on the property during the guest booking. 

Do you have what you need in order to make guests comfortable?

  • Stable Wi-Fi connection
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Enough dishes/cookware for a various number of guests
  • Enough clean towels, cloths, and linens for a various number of guests
  • Appropriate amount of parking 
  • Proper security (i.e., door locks for building, garage, sleeping rooms, etc.)

Are you comfortable with people using these items while renting your property?

  • Dishes/Cookware
  • Towels, Cloths, Linens
  • Furniture
  • Appliances (Dishwasher, Microwave, Fridge, Washer, Dryer, etc.)
  • Television 


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


Are you ready to start setting up a short term rental property? Check out our Complete Guide to Short Term Rentals to find all the steps related to getting a short term rental approved and ready for visitors to rent.