The time is now. Usually condos/houses that were leased for the last season are started to be offered to the same renters in the beginning of July and if by mid July they did not take it again houses go on the open listing along with other properties. As you can imagine the good ones go first.
What to look for - flat drive way! What can seem as a little incline in the summer can be a bitch to climb up on when you have 6" on it. There are of coarse snow removal services (there are 2 companies at Tahoe Donner, look them up on the web), but there will be plenty of times when they either did not clean it yet or it snowed enough after they cleaned it. And even with the cleaning it tends to pack and turn into ice on the driveways.
Another thing is garage - if you can afford a house with garage, go for it. Saves you a lot of time in the morning when it snowed overnight on cleaning the car and defrosting it.
Look for newer houses, they tend to be warmer thus saving you on firewood (yes, you will need to buy firewood to warm the house during the winter) and electricity.
Also look for the ways on how snow will fall off the roof - in many cases the house is built is such a way that snow falls onto the side where windows are and at some point, with enough snowfall, you find yourself leaving in the cave. Patio can be a pain if you are required to clean it from the snow, not every owner requires to do it though. Hot tab - good to have when you go there for a holiday break, not so when you are there entire season once a week required to maintain it, remove snow, heat it to keep water from being frozen etc.......
The best way to look for the lease is to Google up Tahoe Donner realty companies, call them all, set up appointments and go there being ready to spend entire day looking. The process is somewhat painful, since after the 3rd house you've seen you already forgotten how the 1st one looked, so bring houses' print outs with you and make notes.
For the reference - 3-4 bedroom decent house goes now for about $2000 per month. I do not know much about condo or 1-2 bedroom houses pricing. If you have good friends that are willing to share the lease with you it is better, cheaper and more fun to go for bigger house.
Good luck and think snow,
Edited by cfr - 7/22/2009 at 03:59 pm GMT