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Madison wants to regulate short-term rentals (UPDATE)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Homeowners who rent their places for the weekend to Wisconsin football fans may soon have to get a special permit from the city and a license from the health department.

Six Madison City Council members are sponsoring legislation that would require homeowners who rent short-term to get a conditional use permit for a new zoning classification to be known as a “tourist rooming house.” Obtaining a permit would require a public hearing and it could be revoked if there were problems, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Mike Doyle is a partner at University Football Rentals, which recently started up in the area. It connects tenants with rentals, particularly for University of Wisconsin home football games. His company says homeowners can make about $1,500 to $2,000 on a weekend.

He said the company has run into similar regulations elsewhere, including State College, Pa., home of Penn State University, where city officials required a permitting system similar to the one Madison is considering.

Madison’s proposal would require short-term rentals to be at least 500 feet apart, which would limit their numbers. Those who do the short-term rentals would also have to pay the city’s room tax and get a license from the public health department, just as hotels must do.

The council is holding a meeting Sept. 5 to get public input.

“The idea is to create a framework to ensure that people can do this legally, but also provide for some regulation around it,” said Alderman Mark Clear, co-sponsor of the proposal. “It’s not clear to me whether it’s legal or not now. I’d say at this point (companies facilitating short-term rentals) are in that gray region.”

Doyle said his company would work with officials to get all the necessary information about any new rules to homeowners who list with them.

“We don’t want this to be a confrontational thing,” Doyle said. “It’s really just an information issue. We want to figure out what we need to do, and what we need to pass on to our homeowners, to make sure they’re doing everything the right way.”

The ordinance also would apply to short-term rentals through other popular websites such as Airbnb and VRBO, or Vacation Rentals by Owner. Clear said council members, believing some amount of the short-term renting is already happening, had been informally discussing the issue before University Football Rentals came to town.

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,

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