OPA Blog

What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Apartment Key

imagesLost apartment key?

Don’t panic.

Here’s what you need to do and can expect when living in an Oak Park Apartments property:

If you have lost your key and are locked out of your apartment during normal business hours (M-F, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.), call 708-622-9246 and let the Oak Park Apartments office know the specifics of your lock out issue, where you live and how you can best be reached.

During normal business hours an Oak Park Apartments representative will be able to let you into your apartment – a $25 fee applies.

During the hours of 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. and on weekends the fee increases to $50.00, holidays the charge becomes $75.00.  If you are locked out during these times please call the emergency number at 708-406-8644.

All lock out fees must be paid at the time of service to the OPA representative who is letting you back into your apartment.

If you are locked out after 9 p.m. you must call a locksmith.  You will be responsible for all locksmith charges. Another option would be to find a friend to stay with until normal business hours when we’d be happy to help let you back into your place.

We recommend saving both our non-emergency and emergency contact numbers to your phone in case the need arises.

Turning On The Heat

imgresOak Park Apartments knows that a well informed tenant is a happy tenant! So, we would like to give you a little fyi on how the heating systems work now that the weather has started to turn cooler.
First off Oak Park Apartments is required by the Village of Oak Park to maintain certain building temperatures between September 15th and June 1st. During the day (6:30am – 11pm) your apartment should be at least 70 degrees and at night (11pm – 6:30am) your apartment should be at least 65 degrees.
Now, because daily temperatures can fluctuate greatly here in the midwest in the fall – 52 degrees one day, 71 degrees the next – so will your heat cycles.  The days that are cooler you will notice your heat cycling on and off more frequently to keep your apartment at the right temperature.  On days in the fall, when we are lucky enough to get into the 60’s and 70’s, your heat may not cycle on at all during the day because the outside temperature is so warm.
The sun is a factor as well – on a sunny day your brick apartment building absorbs and retains heat like a champ! Do not be alarmed if your radiators are cold during these warm, sunny fall days – your radiators are doing what they are supposed to do and sensing when the temperature falls below the necessary levels before it signals to the boiler that heat is needed in your apartment.
We also suggest some steps to take to help ensure your apartment stays warm because we know all too well that even colder temperatures are just around the corner:
  • Remove window air conditioning units – we talked specifically about this in last weeks blog – because leaving an A/C unit in your window is like leaving your window wide open.  Not a good thing if you like to be warm.
  • Close your windows, including the storm windows (if you have them – newer windows don’t need storms because of their energy efficiency). Lock your windows, which will ensure the tightest seal possible.
  • Don’t block radiators or radiator vents with furniture. The furniture will absorb the heat instead of allowing it to disperse throughout your apartment.
  • Add insulated curtains to windows and keep them closed on cold/windy days, when you are not ceilingfandirectionat home. When the sun is shining open the curtains to take advantage of the sun’s warmth, especially windows that have a southern exposure.
  • If you have ceiling fans switch them to reverse – since heat rises turning on your ceiling fan after reversing the blade rotation will push heat back down towards the floor.
  • Use a humidifier – humidity holds heat so your apartment will feel warmer with more humidity in the air.
  • Block any door drafts with towel or store bought draft blocker.
  • And last but not least – keep a cozy sweater/sweatshirt handy to throw on when the temps begin to plummet.
If your heat has not cycled on in a while, the outside temperatures are below 60 degrees and the inside of your apartment is colder then the 70 degrees during the day/65 degrees during the night temperature regulations then it is time to call the Oak Park Apartments emergency number  at 708-406-8644.

The Best Way To Keep Your Apartment Warm

images-1We are well into fall with November just around the corner and hey, we are no fools – we know what comes next – the cold.
So why are we being downright cruel by reminding everyone of the inevitable frigid temps when the weather is still pleasant and mild?
Because now is the time to remove those window air conditioning units to make sure your apartment will be warm and cozy when the temperatures do start to drop.
Why go to the hassle of removing those A/C units you ask?
Because it is the number one way to ensure your apartment will be warm during the cold weather.
When window units are not removed and the storm windows not properly closed it’s like leaving a window wide open.  Brrr…
So just follow these simple tips and removing your unit will be a breeze:
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt to protect your arms.
  • Enlist a friend for help if you think you’ll need some extra muscle.
  • Make sure to wear sturdy shoes.
  • Have a screw driver, drill and old towel ready.
  • Unplug the unit.
  • Remove the A/C’s front panel and set aside to better grip the unit.
  • Lay the towel on the floor right below the unit.
  • Check out your window and make sure no one is directly below.
  • Stand on the A/C’s power cord just in case.
  • Firmly hold (here is where a friend comes in handy) unit and begin to unscrew.
  • When all the screws are out lift the window pane (Once again, a friend is a plus at this point).
  • Carefully remove A/C unit and place on a towel on the floor.
  • Close the storm window/actual window.
  • Woot, woot – you did it!!
Not only will you be warmer in your home but you will be helping Mother Earth by conserving energy as well!

The 411 on 911’s at Oak Park Apartments

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Oak Park Apartments provides tenants with a 24/7 emergency contact service in order to report serious situations.  But, there are times when a tenant may ask themselves, “Is this truly an emergency?”
Here is some simple information and guidelines to help determine when you truly have an emergency situation and what your next steps should be.

 

Emergency situations include:

No heat.
Boilers cycle on and off during the heating season, they are not constantly on.  When the boiler has cycled off radiators cool down.  This is a normal part of the heating system and does not mean that there is no heat.
Call Oak Park Apartments emergency number at 708-406-8644 to report a problem:
  • If your heat has not been on for hours and the temperature in your apartment is less than 70 degrees between the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and less than 65 degrees between the hours of 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
No electricity.
  • First, check, change or flip your fuses/breakers.
  • Check to see if power is out only in your apartment, the entire building and/or the whole neighborhood – this information can help Com Ed trouble shoot the issue.
  • Next, contact Com Ed to report a problem at their residential service number, 1-800-Edison-1.  It may take Com Ed some time to respond if there has been a major storm.
Gas leak/gas smell. 
  • First, leave your apartment.
  • Next, immediately call Nicor Gas at 1-888-NICOR4U (642-6748).
  • Finally, call Oak Park Apartments’s emergency number, 708-406-8644 to report the problem.
Smell Smoke/See Fire.
  • Call 911 immediately.
Flooding.
  • Call Oak Park Apartments’s emergency service number at 708-406-8644 to report the problem.
For non-emergency services (for example: your toilet is not flushing, you have a slow drain, an appliance is on the fritz, or an outlet is not working) call 708-622-9246 during normal business hours (M-F, 9-5) or go online anytime at Oak Park Apartments to log in a maintenance request.

An Apartment Laundry Revolution

imgresSmart phone apps are making it easier and more convenient for consumers to purchase, have fun and take care of business in every aspect of our daily lives.
And, as part of a desire to constantly maintain and improve our properties for tenants Oak Park Apartments regularly asks “what can we do better?”.
So, with that being said, tenants it is time to say good bye to having to scrounge for quarters in order to perform your laundry chores because OPA is about to drag laundry technology into the 21st century!!
OPA has implemented and begun the testing of a smart phone laundry app at our 431 North Humphrey and 901 South Wesley properties and, in just one week’s time, over 45 loads of laundry have been washed and dried without the need for any coins.
How does this laundry app work?
PayRange is the app (App store or Google Play).  It’s simple. Just download the app and fund the account via a variety of payment options. Go to settings and make sure your Bluetooth is switched on.
Now it’s time to do laundry!
Enter the laundry room, open the app – which will search for connected laundry machines, select the equipment you want to use and start your laundry by “swiping up” when prompted. No pocket full of quarters, no coins jamming in the machine, no hassle.
Not only will you be free of quarters you will also receive coupons for free washes and your account will be automatically be refunded if you have a machine malfunction.imgres
And for the users who are not quite ready to empty their pockets of quarters you will still be able to use the laundry machines just as you always have. The machines will be able to handle coins or technology without complaint.
Now if we could only get some technology that would help to fold the laundry.

 

Fire Prevention Tips for Your Apartment

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October 9th, 2016 begins Fire Prevention Week here in Illinois. Increasing awareness surrounding how to prevent fires and how to survive a fire happens in October because of the tragedy of the Great Chicago Fire that began on October 8, 1871.
Legend has it that a fire broke out after a cow – belonging to Mrs. Catherine O’Leary – kicked over a lamp, igniting the barn and then the whole city of Chicago.  Causing more than 250 deaths and leaving over 100,000 people homeless the effects of the Great Chicago Fire still resonate.
The the story of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow has since been proven a myth with speculation of how the fire started ranging from cigarette smoking to fiery meteorite to “suspicious” causes.
How ever the fire started the effects of that fire were devastating and a reason prevention and awareness are essential in order to save both property and lives.

Top Causes of Apartment Fires

The main causes of apartment fires includes cooking/kitchen fires, electrical appliances (i.e. space heaters), smoking (major cause of fatal fires), candle use and arson (which includes children playing with matches/fire).

Steps to Prevent Apartment Fires

There are several steps that you can take to help prevent a fire from starting in your apartment:
  • Oak Park Apartments properties have been smoke free for about 3 years. So no smoking, ever. Not even on the back porch. Smoking has to take place outside of the property – generally 15 feet away (similar to other non-smoking public ordinances) is acceptable. 
  • Keep matches and lighters where children can’t get to them.
  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Keep all things flammable away from the stove top when cooking.
  • Choose to use battery operated candles.If you choose to use real candles make sure to blow out your candles when you are done.  Set a timer to remind yourself. 
  • Keep heating equipment at least three feet away from combustible materials.Keep all things flammable away from the stove top when cooking.
  • Replace worn electrical cords, make sure to always use power strips if additional outlets are needed.
  • Do not store flammable liquids or compressed gases (i.e. propane) in your apartment or on your balcony.
  • Do not use your balcony for storage or for grilling food.
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors bi-annually. A good time to do this is at when the clocks change every fall and spring.

    What to Do in Case of an Apartment Fire

If there is a fire in your apartment, make sure that you have a plan and that your plan works. Know your fire escape route and know where all the extinguishers are in your building. Never ignore a fire alarm.
Always follow these steps to escape safely:·
  • Check doors before opening them. If the door is cool, open it slowly and stay low to the ground and leave the building as quickly as possible. If the door is warm, seal the door and the vents with wet bedding or towels. Go to a window, and if there is no smoke outside, open it and signal for help.
  • If you are able, call 9-1-1 and let them know that you are trapped in the building and give them your location.
  • Never use an elevator during a fire! Use the stairs!
  • Once you are safely out of the building, NEVER go back in. If you need help, call 9-1-1 or ask a member of the fire department that has responded to your apartment fire.

Support “The Arts”

10461396_10152315885627739_6183131017422153623_nOak Park Apartments supports the arts.

Yes, we have properties in the Harrison Street Arts District which makes promoting the neighborhood arts vibe the obvious thing to do but there are so many compelling reasons to help to ensure “The Arts” sustain and thrive in our community.

Here’s our reasons:

  • Improves academic performance.

    Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPA’s, standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates – regardless of socio-economic status. So supporting the arts really is just common sense for a better future.

  • Strengthens the economy.

    The art and culture sector is a $699 billion industry according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and that’s a lot of dough that people are spending so it makes sense to give the public what it wants.

  • Good for small businesses.

    Which is a direct tie in to the previous bullet point.  People and 11350784_10153043876932739_6423370004917793338_ncommunities who embrace creative businesses are supporting “small“, which is a great business circle of life. You shop at a small business, the small business supports the community not only through taxes but by being involved in the community, donating to local charities, employing people from the community who then earn a living to be able to spend the money they earn back in your community, and on it goes.

  • Drives tourism.

    Think concerts, plays, museums – people want experiences and they will travel to get there. And according to research, non-local attendees spend twice as much at these events as people living in the community.

  • Positive social impact.

    Princeton University study points that a high concentration of the arts in communities and schools can positively impact how people interact, feel about and trust in one another.  All good things.

So, feel compelled, support the arts in any number of ways – shop local, attend a concert, take an arts class, donate to a local arts charity and always stop and appreciate what others have created.

A Special Parking Lot – Yes, We Said Special

img_3007The parking lot on the north side of Oak Park Apartments 618 South Austin building is special.
“How can a parking lot be special?”,  you ask.
Simply by having a large lot where you can easily park your car right next to your apartment building can qualify as something rare, and some may say special, here in Oak Park.  But the lot at 618 is more then just a place to conveniently leave your vehicle without fear of a parking ticket, any time – day or night.
This lot has become a shared garden.
The transformation began three years ago when a Village of Oak Park fence on the north side of OPA’s 618 property was blown down in a storm. The VOP decided not to replace the fence, a definite measure of security that the neighborhood valued.  This opened the lot up to any and all.
With the fence gone building neighbor, Karen Morava, was able to see the little empty plots of Village owned dirt.  This prompted Karen, who had been “dividing up plants in her own yard”, to begin planting her split perennials there. Her husband Peter joined in by adding “prairie flower seeds and this began the little garden that could.”, stated Oak Park Apartments employee, Diana Carpenter
Seeing Karen planting in these plots, Diana approached her and they “started talking about the possibilities for a joint gardening project. Karen’s vision was to turn the area into a butterfly corridor. It would look more attractive for tenants, be prettier for residents walking through on their way to the el, assist the bee and butterfly population and turn a pretty dreadful, forgotten corner of the village into a beautiful garden.”img_3006-1
Diana turned to OPA’s contracted landscaper, Dennis Marani of Marani’s Landscaping for additional help. Rock hard soil was turned and tilled, additional split plantings from other OPA buildings where added and stepping stones were strategically placed for easy passage for tenants, neighbors and all who cut through the lot to get to and from their destinations.  Mr. Marani enjoyed the beautification project so much he even calls it “our garden”, according to Diana.
“Diana has been instrumental in making this project a reality” stated company co-owner, Bob Planek.  “She is someone who connects with our tenants as well as neighbors.  She helps OPA properties really be a part of the Oak Park, Forest Park and Chicago communities.”
img_2990Diana went on to comment about the future of the garden, “to me the funniest thing about this whole collaboration is we all just plant what we have where we feel like planting. No big plan. Karen has some milkweed growing now. We all work on it when we have time. It is getting to the end of the growing season and we have put in new plants that will be ready in Spring. Just before winter Karen and I will work together to clean up for winter and we will do the same in the Spring.”
So yes, this “little garden” and the community of people that made it come to life is really what makes this parking lot “special”.

Apartment Recycling – It’s All About Capacity

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Recycling while renting has historically been a challenge.  Just google apartment recycling and most of the stories that pop up are about how to recycle in spite of living in an apartment.

Living in Oak Park, whether in apartment or house, makes being green definitely easier.  The Village provides many ways and opportunities for residents to recycle but the challenge of everyday recycling is still a test when you have many people living in their own homes but still under one roof.  Between people moving in an out and the packaging that comes with many online orders a typical recycling bin fills up quickly. And, though it is truly a good thing that this generation of tenants are better overall recyclers, it has caused us at Oak Park Apartments to realize we needed to up our recycling game by increasing can capacity.

Yes, that’s right – bigger and more is definitely better when we are talking recycling containers.  (Hey, and there is even more space if people break down their boxes…please!)

So bring us your bottles, your cans, your papers, your plastics and cardboard…. OPA is bucking the apartment recycling norm!

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Bicycle Racks: A Millennial Amenity

IMG_3080Oak Park is a bicycle friendly village. The Village has worked hard over the years to create a community wide bike plan, register bikes with the police department, add bike paths and bike racks to encourage pedaling and promote guidelines for bikers and motorist to peacefully co-exist.

The Village’s pro-biking efforts have even earned them the title of Bike Friendly Community in 2015 by the League of American Bicyclists. And, since Oak Park is never one to rest on past accolades, they have continued to promote pedal power by approving and installing 13 Divvy bike sharing stations throughout Oak Park just this summer.

So how does this all relate to Oak Park Apartments?

We are a company that values a green mission as well as wanting to provide amenities that benefit our tenants.

A large portion of our tenants are Millennials (19 – 34 year olds) and Millennials bike, walk, use public transportation, rent and take active interest in caring for the environment more then the Baby Boomer generation.

In order to meet the trends of our Millennial tenants and continue supporting common sense green initiatives, OPA has installed indoor bike racks at 26 of our properties with plans for more to come!

Is this shift towards biking here to stay?  OPA is planning on it!

Keep on pedaling, Oak Park!

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