Icy roads and unpredictable power outages/stranding

I’m a new host. I am renting out a cabin in rural Oregon and am anticipating what to do in the winter. I live 20 minutes away. The property is at the top of a hill, so the driveway can be slippery from ice or snow at times. Is it best to suggest or require that guests have an AWD vehicle over the winter months, even though it is generally not needed?
And, do I mention the possibility that a power outage could occur when a guest might already be there and unable to leave because of the snow? They would have backup heat, light and water, and I would leave emergency food. Is that adequate, or is it best to not rent it out if there is a (low) possibility that someone could get stranded there? Sometimes storms can be predicted and dealt with ahead of time (other plans made); sometimes not.
Thank you

Our Airbnb is also in a snowy mountain community, where nearby homes can be unreachable for a week or more. But my wife and I live full-time on-site; so, our driveway and roads must be cleared of snow for us and our guests.

My two concerns for your guests are:

  • Long-term power outages (without enough food, water and heat).
  • Inability to leave for many days, due to the snow-clogged roads. If I were stuck for a week in your cabin, my boss would not want to hear I won’t be returning to work until the roads are drivable.

P.S.: If your mountain cabin is heated by propane gas, like our house, how do you ensure the tank is always filled? Once our 500-gallon propane tank unknowingly ran dry, which we had to call for an emergency refill.

I would put something in your house rules about AWD so Airbnb doesn’t refund city-folk trying to make it up the mountain in a SmartCar.
“From November to April (or whatever) an AWD vehicle is highly recommended. We are unable to refund or reimburse you for cancellations or travel issues caused by an attempt to navigate roads with a non-AWD vehicle.”

If there are actual road closures, your guests will be able to cancel under the extenuating circumstances policy. Same goes if you aren’t able to keep the driveway accessible.

As for alerting people to possible loss of electricity or stranding: How often do you lose power during the winter? How often is the cabin inaccessible & for how long?

So long as they don’t happen incredibly often, these seem like issues I’d address in the house manual or in direct communication prior to a winter visit. All hosts need to think through emergency scenarios. Your location just necessitates more planning to ensure there’s enough backup resources to carry them through a worst-case stranding scenario.

I think the above is adequate. If something big comes your way that would make a guests’ stay treacherous due to chance of stranding I’d get in touch with Airbnb for an extenuating circumstances cancellation. See the section on natural disasters:

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Thank you both very much for your responses.

In terms of the slippery/icy driveway (which happens occasionally throughout the winter) - I’ll mention this in the listing, saying, as you suggested, that AWD is highly recommended during the winter months.

The combination of a power outage and being stranded due to ice/snow only happens once every few years. So, that, too will be mentioned in the listing, so people are warned.

I’m glad that I don’t have to take it off the rental market entirely for four months. It sounds like it’s more of a ‘buyer beware’, with full disclosure. So, that was helpful advice.

And yes, I do have a 500 gallon propane tank. The propane company made me promise I’d have it checked at the end of every summer, so that they would not have to make an emergency run up the hill in the middle of winter. That seems to work well.

Hi Allison, your comments have helped me realize how important it is to to write all the house rules. Specially when it comes to the snow. We recently had a situation with one of our guests. So upset because there was a lot of snow and couldn’t get into the driveway. In addition, threatened us with an attorney if anything would happen to his vehicles. This is after sending him pictures, making him aware of the conditions and offering to reschedule his booking. I’m new to this forum.
Do you presently airbnb your house?