3-month stay at Vermont Yurt

A potential guest reached out and inquired if she could stay in our yurt for November, December, and January. The yurt is difficult and expensive to heat with both the propane heater and woodstove, but her offer is really good for us, and we’ll make more than had we shut down for the winter here in VT, which is what we were considering.

I’m curious how others have dealt with long-term rentals? We have worked out a number of details with the guest, but want to be sure that 1) AirBnB insurance covers long-term stays and 2) the woodstove is not going to be an issue. We’ll give her a training, but not sure whether to just absorb the cost of the wood. We have asked her to put a propane desposit down; she’ll have to top off the propane at the end of her stay.

I’m also curious if/how people have dealt with deposits? We are asking for a $500 non-refundable deposit to hold the space, plus the propane deposit. Any tips on that?

We see this as a bit of an experiment; we want all parties to be very happy with the situation and get a great review. IT’s also the most difficult time of year in VT (dark, cold, often no snow until January…). So pre-thinking the entire situation is really essential.

Welcome any tips whatsoever!

Did the guest explain why they want to live in a yurt in the snow for 3 months? Winter outdoor photography? Ski in to Killington? Be a squatter and not leave when the 3 months are up?
Definitely check your locality’s rules on tenant rights before agreeing to a long-term stay. You will likely have acquired a tenant, with commensurate landlord obligations, whether that is your intent or not. This is why some hosts here will advise not to rent over 28 days on the Air platform.
I would have her sign a month to month lease so you can limit your risk exposure. You can download from nolo site. Maybe just use the Air reservation “send or request money” button for $ to cover the projected cost of wood and propane (gross it up for your Air fee), instead of securing a deposit payment offline and relying on her to top up after the fact. Since you are asking about securing deposits, I assume you already know that Air “security deposits” aren’t real. No money is actually collected and Air gets to decide whether you get paid the deposit, a portion of the deposit, or none at all.
If this all works out, maybe explore VRBO/Homeaway so you have more control over the terms of longer-term rentals.

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It seems to me that there is a demand for the longer-term lease market. Like a website that would bring together hosts who are willing to have guests for more than 30 days and guests who don’t want to sign 6 month leases. The service could provide insurance and the contractual expertise to avoid conferring tenant rights. They could have real deposists, not have credit card chargebacks etc.

Guest would have access to more unique dwellings than they get in apartments, and long stay hotel suites; more neighborhood, at home feel without having to sign a lease, buy furniture and housewares…

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I’m wondering who will be responsible for snow removal, I imagine that there is a driveway. That might be another expense to consider.

Air insurance will NOT cover you for LTR, IIRC. Do 29 day STRs.

Do NOT “just absorb” the cost of the wood. The key word is cost.

A cord of wood is gonna cost you about $250. How many cords is she going to go through in 3 months in a yurt? Three? Four? Six?

If she’s gonna use it, she’s gonna pay for it. Otherwise she may decide to heat with the ‘free’ wood rather than pay for the propane.


Can’t help with the insurance query bc I don’t know, but…

Take the money!! If it’s an experiment anyway (assuming you haven’t had winter guests yet?), then it will be much, much easier to iron out all the little quirks that come with winter yurt hosting with an adventurous, single guest.

The alternatives are:
shut it down for winter = $0
open it for winter shorter stays, risk a dozen iffy reviews during experiment time
rent to this single person, get paid $$$ during experiment time, risk one review

The latter sounds like the best option, imo, because the type of gal to want to stay in a yurt in VT for winter is likely to be a person who will be pretty cool about all the details and quirks that come with yurt living…(and you will get to discover whether or not you need to bump up the floor insulation or add a fan for smoke or all the yurt unknowns), without risking [possibly numerous] negative reviews. I’d go for it!

As far as the wood, propane and expenses…there are sooooo many yurts on Airbnb now. Maybe drop one of them a line and ask how they handle winter heating for guests. Like Ken said, wood for a whole winter can be expensive and may make a sizable dent in your profits.

Love your pic, btw :wink:

Edit, RE: deposits. I see deposits as more symbolic than anything, since neither Air nor hosts hold them. I’ve had guests cause damage that well exceeded the posted deposit, and were paid anyway. Since taking a deposit off the platform violates the terms, make sure your own insurance is really good.

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Regarding: 1) AirBnB insurance covers long-term stays

After 2 years of hosting I discovered that Airbnb Insurance is not really insurance. I learned this mostly from reading about host horror stories. I am in Massachusetts and discovered that there is no insurance policies that would cover the STR and if my insurance company found out I was doing Airbnb I would have had my insurance cancelled and been denied any payout. I had to buy a policy at twice the cost of my regular insurance but I was unwilling to risk my most valuable asset.

Regarding the rental, I agree that all expenses (wood, heating, etc) should be guest’s responsibility. Also, I would carefully think about how much more you are going to make because it always costs more than you think. If I was going to make a $2000 profit, I’d probably consider it but anything less seems risky to me.