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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Building Inspection is open to the public by appointment only.

For more on appointments and other services, please see the Building Inspection Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

View all impacts to City service on the City's COVID-19 website.

Best Practices Certification Program

Program overview

The Best Practices Program certifies that property owners meet MGO 32.18 standards. These standards improve owner-tenant relations. They promote good communication and conflict resolution. Owners who qualify can advertise that they are Gold Star Certified by the City of Madison. We will have a list of certified owners below.


Landlords must meet the following standards to be eligible to apply:

  1. Commit to following the best practices (below)

  2. Include the best practices as an addendum to tenant leases

  3. Not had a tenant awarded rent abatement within the past 12 months

Best Practices
  1. Provide at least twenty-four (24) hours' notice before entering a tenant's property. Advanced notice does not apply in emergencies.

  2. When showing a property, give at least 24 hours' notice, a reasonable time of entry, and a rough length of stay. You and your tenant may also agree to shorter notice periods or a larger window of availability.

  3. Provide tenants with written guest regulations, if relevant.

  4. Provide the tenant with the Tenant's Rights and Responsibilities brochure at the start of the lease

  5. Provide a new tenant with voter registration forms once the tenant moves in.

  6. Late fees and penalties must not exceed five percent (5%) of the periodic rent.

  7. Provide written reasons for denial of a rental application or for the non-renewal of a lease.

  8. Inform successor tenants if the dwelling is subject to rent abatement.

  9. Use written check-in and check-out forms.

  10. At the end of the lease, photograph damages and provide the photographs to the former tenant.

  11. Provide the outgoing tenant with an itemization of amounts withheld from security deposits. Also provide copies of receipts, estimates, and hourly rate charges for work performed.

  12. Provide the tenant with a phone number in case of emergency.

  13. Itemize amounts withheld from an earnest money deposit.

  14. Give the tenant the Rental Criteria when you give them the rental application. You may also give them the rental criteria before.

  15. A security deposit must not exceed the amount of one month's rent. The parties may agree in writing to extra fees as a security deposit for pets or a waterbed.

  16. Return the security deposit of a tenant once you have the security deposit of the sub-tenant. An exception is if the total of the deposits made by the parties does not exceed the amount of one month's rent.

  17. Disclose to a tenant any issues that could be subject to rent abatement.

  18. In buildings with three or more units, let tenants know that the City bans smoking in common areas.

  19. In a lodging house, post the names and telephone numbers of two persons to contact for emergency work.

  20. Refund credit check fees. Do not charge a prospective rental applicant a nonrefundable credit check fee.

  21. Review with the tenant the "Smoke Alarm Requirements for Landlords and Tenants" form. This form is produced by the Fire Department.


Owners can apply for free by contacting or (608) 266-4555.

Last Updated: 06/01/2021

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