A ski lease is long-term vacation rental, where a group of people come together to rent a house near the ski slopes. Ski leases are typically for most or all of the duration of a ski season, so in Lake Tahoe they often from Dec. 1 to May 1, though some ski leases start after the popular winter holidays to save on costs. It’s not a timeshare — members of the ski lease can visit the lease as often as they want, whenever they want.

How do I find a lease to join?

Easy! Check out our ski lease listings right here on Cabin Fever. It’s the one place online to find dozens of ski leases listed in one place, with a lot more information than Craigslist.

Who can join a ski lease?

Anyone! Some ski leases are organized by and for people in their 20s, and the weekends can get rowdy (or fun, depending on who’s asking). Other ski leases are tailored to 30s-40s singles, while many ski leases are aimed at families — with kids often running around the house. On a ski lease, members typically spend a lot of time with one another over the winter, so you’ll want to make sure it’s a crowd that you’re compatible with.

But how does it really work? Doesn’t it get crowded?

How the lease works can vary somewhat lease-to-lease, but generally there are a more people on a lease than there are beds at the house. With a large group of people, it’s highly unlikely for everyone on a lease to visit the ski lease on a given weekend, so a typical weekend might have half of the members of the lease at the cabin — meaning plenty of room for everyone to sleep in a bed. Of course, on powder-filled weekends, there are times it can be crowded. Members may try to work out the bed situation in advance, or some people might sleep on air mattresses or couches. On most weekends in a ski lease though, everyone gets a bed.

Some houses, especially those that cater to older members or families, do operate differently and actually ensure that each person on the lease gets a bed. Talk to the ski lease organizer to see what the set up and bed availability is like

So can I just live there for the season?

No, not generally. Ski leases are not seasonal housing — they are vacation housing. They are not designed to be used by people who want to make the ski lease their primary residence and live there most of the time. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be have more members on the ski lease than beds in the house. If you’re a seasonal ski resort employee looking for housing, it’s unlikely you’ll be welcome in a ski lease. Instead, check Craigslist for seasonal or long-term rentals — or talk to your employer to see if they offer employee housing.

How much does it cost to join a ski lease?

Costs vary by lease. You can get a sense of the range on our ski leases page. On the more affordable end, prices can start around $500 for a smaller, older house with a shorter lease than only starts in January. On the high end, you’ll find leases upwards of $2,000, for a house with hot tub and fewer members on the lease with room for your kids. Many leases charge a refundable deposit (typically held by the landlord) that is returned at the end of the season.

Can I brings friends?

Typically, guests are welcome at ski leases. Sometimes, it might depend on the weekend. Many leases use a calendar where members will record the nights they plan to visit (and how many guests they want to bring). This gives other members of the lease a sense of how crowded it will be, and how many guests they should feel comfortable bringing.

Most ski leases allow members to bring guests but charge the guests a fee. This fee serves two purposes:

  • It covers extra costs to the lease that might vary over the course of the season, like heating, beer, snow removal or electricity.
  • It ensures fairness, so that a friend of a member doesn’t get to come up for free throughout the season, instead of just joining the lease himself. Additionally, this puts a check on lease members who bring a lot of guests.

Guest fees are typically pooled together to pay for communal expenses like utility bills, but often ski leases will make more money in guest fees than they need to pay for utilities and expenses. Big ski leases may collect as much as $10,000 over the course of the season!

This means that often members will get a decent amount of money back at the end of the season, as much as a few hundred dollars.

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