Guest Accommodations

What are Guest Accommodations?

On August 10, 1999, the Jo Daviess County Board adopted the Guest Accommodations Ordinance. This ordinance, which went into effect on January 11, 2000, requires that all transient rental property be licensed by the County. The Guest Accommodations Ordinance was designed to provide life-safety standards for all transient rental properties (property rented for a period of less than 30 consecutive days) which contain 16 or fewer units. All transient rental property owners must apply for and receive this license to operate in the County.

If you own a townhouse, condo or motel that you would like to use for rentals, you may apply for a Guest Accommodations License. If you own a single-family home that you would like to use for rentals, you should contact the Planning & Development Department for information for obtaining a Zoning Certificate, which must be received before a single-family home may apply for a Guest Accommodations License.

Application Requirements

Each applicant must submit the completed application form, pay the annual application fee and provide the documents listed on the second page of the application packet. These documents, such as proof of liability insurance coverage, well & septic information, heating inspection report and floor plans, must be filed before a license can be issued.

Annual Inspection

Once an application has been received, the Planning & Development Department will schedule an inspection of the rental property. Most, but not all, of the requirements of the ordinance are items that are required of new homes.

The inspector will look for hard-wired, interconnected smoke detectors in each bedroom and on each level of the home. This type of smoke detector provides “when one sounds, all sound” protection. An acceptable alternative to hard-wired smoke detectors are wireless smoke detection systems that have been approved by the County. Contact the Building & Zoning Office for more information about wireless smoke detection systems or local contractors who can install hard-wired smoke detectors.

The annual inspection also includes checking for carbon monoxide detectors on each floor, GFI protection on electrical outlets, adequate handrails and balusters and two approved means of egress escape from each bedroom.

When the inspection has been passed and the applicant’s file is complete, a Guest Accommodations License for display in the rental property is issued.

This license is effective for the current year and must be renewed every year by December 31st.

Common Questions

Q. “What if I decide to sell my rental property? Will the license transfer to the new owner?”

A. Yes. The license stays with the property and will transfer if the house is sold. The County must be notified if a rental property changes owners. The new owner must pay the renewal fee at the end of each year and provide any required information to keep the license current.

Q. “What is the maximum number of people that may stay in a rental home?”

A. Homes with seven or more bedrooms are limited to a sixteen-person overnight occupancy. Homes with fewer than seven bedrooms are allowed two people per bedroom, plus an additional two people per building. (Adults and minors shall be included in the occupancy count)

Where can I get an application?

Click to view and print an application for a Guest Accommodations License  .  The Guest Accommodations Ordinance can be found on the Jo Daviess County Code Website  Title 4, Chapter 6.  If you have further questions, you may contact the Jo Daviess County Planning & Development Department at (815) 591-3810 or