OPA Blog

How To Secure An Apartment In A Competitive Market



The American dream of home ownership has changed.  Renting, rather than buying, is now the norm.  

Why the shift?

Three important reasons: 

  • Flexibility. Being able to go where the job offer is with ease is valuable.
  • Expense. Renting is less expensive than owning. 
  • Maintenance. Plumbing, heating, lawn care and more are all the landlord’s responsibility.

The natural consequence of more people renting is the rental market is now more competitive. 

So how does a prospective tenant secure that perfect apartment with multiple other prospective tenants vying for that same space?

To start, make sure you have a good credit score, a verifiable job history and quality references.

When apartment hunting know what your must-haves are.  Being close to public transportation and having a dishwasher might top many peoples’ lists while, for others, a pet friendly apartment is key. Flexibility is important.  Not every apartment can or will check off every item on your list. 

Let’s mention again the benefits of a good credit score and while we are at it a lack of serious criminal history are definite positives for anyone looking to rent. 

Once you become a tenant being a good neighbor, paying your rent on time, respecting the space you are leasing and considerate interactions with management are ways to ensure that you will receive a lease renewal letter and not incur the time, effort and expense of finding a new apartment year after year.

How To Close Your Storm Windows

Closing your storm windows is the most helpful way to make sure your apartment stays warm during extreme cold weather.

After many storm window related stories over the years from previous tenants, we realized that many people have little experience with closing storm windows so Oak Park Apartments figured a little DIY training might come in handy as we continue to experience significant arctic weather.

There are three parts to your storm window: the outer sash, the inner sash and the screen. First, unlock the screen by pushing in the locking mechanisms/tabs at the bottom corners and push the screen up all the way until it locks into place. Next unlock the inner storm windows’ locking mechanisms/tabs, just as you did with the screen, and pull the inner storm down and lock that into place.

There, you’re done! You have mastered the art of of closing your storm windows. Stay toasty!

Holiday Fire Safety Tips


Oak Park Apartments would like to remind tenants of some practical fire prevention tips to follow to ensure your safety during the holiday season:

  • Fake or Fresh?  Purchase manufacturer certified fire-retardant artificial trees, wreaths or garland. If you are choosing a fresh tree, make sure the needles don’t fall off when touched. Before placing your tree in the stand, make a fresh cut of an additional 1-2” from the base of the trunk. Watering the tree daily will keep your tree fresh.
  • Make sure the tree, be it fake or fresh is not blocking radiators or any heat source.
  • Only buy holiday lights that have been safety tested.
  • Replace holiday lights that have worn, frayed or broken cords.
  • Remember to turn all holiday lights off when you leave your apartment or before you go to bed. Better yet, put them on a timer so it is automatic.
  • Do not connect too many strings of lights together.
  • Candles, electricity, dryers and cooking are the causes of most fires so by substituting battery operated candles for the real deal you will reduce the risk of a fire.
  • Test your smoke detector and change the batteries when needed.
  • Do not overload your electrical outlets, instead plug multiple chords into a surge protector.
  • Do not place electrical chords under rugs.  Walking on electrical chords can damage the chord and cause a fire.
  • Space heaters, any time of the year, are a danger.  If you are not getting adequate heat in your apartment please call management.
  • Prevention is key but it also makes sense to establish a fire escape plan.


Pet Holiday Safety Tips

Oak Park Apartments wants to make sure that your furry friends stay safe and healthy throughout the holiday season.

With these few simple tips you can ensure that Fido & Fluffy have the best holiday ever!

  • Beware, many holiday plants are poisonous. Mistletoe, holly, poinsettia and even many lilies are not safe for pets if eaten.  The results of your pet ingesting these holiday favorites can include vomiting, organ failure and even death. So play it safe by either choosing artificial or doing your research before you decorate with holiday plants.
  • No chocolate or holiday treats for your four legged friends. Basically, human foods are a no-no for animal digestive systems unless you want to incur some costly trips to the vet.


  • Drinking water from the tree stand could make your pet sick. Wrap the tree skirt tightly around the tree and make sure your pet has plenty of clean drinking water available so as not to be tempted.
  • Avoid tinsel.  Pets cannot resist munching on the glittery stuff and once eaten it

    can cause havoc in a pets digestive tract and worst case, might require surgical removal.

  • No candles.  Cats especially like the warmth a candle gives off but your kitty my burn itself or accidentally knock over and cause a fire in your home.  That’s certainly not a holiday present that anyone would want on their list!

With these few safety tips you and your pet can enjoy a wonderful and safe holiday season!


#GivingTuesday: A Local Success



The kickoff to the holiday season has ever increasingly been about shopping. From Black Friday to Small Business Saturday and ending with Cyber Monday, the rush to get the gift purchasing part of the holidays started soon after Thanksgiving is very real.  And that is why the advent of the #GivingTuesday movement couldn’t be more welcomed.

#GivingTuesday, now in its’ sixth year, is a social media movement that “celebrates and supports philanthropy” in order to bring about real change in our communities.

As an apartment management company that has operated in Oak Park for over thirty years we have seen the impact that local community charities make to our Village.  The amount of necessary services provided by the multitude of neighborhood organizations, their staff and volunteers is humbling.

With that in mind we were honored and fortunate to be able to donate to the following eight very worthy charities during #GivingTuesday2017:

We hope that by highlighting these groups others will learn about and decide to help these groups with their important missions.

#GivingTuesday is a wonderful day but these groups, along with many other amazing philanthropic organizations, operate all year round, providing services, support, love and care for many and really, everyday is a good day to give.

Local Shopping Earns Big Rewards In DTOP

The holidays are here.  They really do kick into gear the minute you close the door on your last Halloween trick or treater these days. But instead of getting all “Grinch-y” about it let’s focus on a very important Oak Park holiday positive.

Downtown Oak Park Shopper’s Rewards are back.

This is a program put into place by the Downtown Oak Park Business District to encourage people to shop, dine and be entertained locally – you are literally rewarded for being a loyal, Oak Park shopper.

How does this all work?

You, the shopper, will receive $50.00 in Shopper’s Reward certificates when you bring in receipts totaling $25.00 or more from at least 7 different local participating downtown Oak Park businesses to the Oak Park Visitor’s Center. The grand receipt total must be at least $400.00 and there is a limit of 3 Shopper’s Reward certificate booklets per household – so according to our math, you could literally receive $150 rewards dollars to spend just by shopping locally (and being organized enough with your receipts).

Then, come January 1st through February 15th, you get to go out and spend the rewards you earned by keeping your shopping dollars local at the very same participating Downtown Oak Park businesses.

Whether you need a Lake Theater movie gift certificate for your babysitter, something fun and French from the Careful Peach for your bestie, or a box of Fannie May mint melt-a-ways to bring as a hostess gift to grandma… you can head to Downtown Oak Park and take care of everyone on your holiday shopping list while earning yourself a little post-holiday cha-ching to spend in 2018.




At Oak Park Apartments we believe that a well informed tenant is a happy tenant and now that weather has officially turned cold we wanted to provide our tenants with the Village of Oak Park’s heating rules and regulations along with additional tips for staying toasty.

As a building owner that furnishes heat for tenants Oak Park Apartments is required to maintain the following apartment room temperatures: 65°F from 6 to 8 a.m.; 68°F from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 63°F from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

If you are feeling a chill there are some additional steps to take as a tenant:

  • Remove window air conditioning units.
  • Close your windows, including the storm windows. Lock the windows – this ensures the tightest seal possible.
  • Don’t block radiators or radiator vents with furniture.
  • Add insulated curtains to windows and keep them closed on cold/windy days. When the sun is shining open the curtains to take advantage of the sun’s warmth, especially windows that have a southern exposure.
  • Switch your ceiling fan 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 once more humidity is in the air.
  • Remember when temperatures dip and you want to be warm, wearing shorts and a t-shirt may not be the best choice, even though you are in your apartment.





Donate Coats NOW through DECEMBER 7TH

Oak Park Apartments’s 2nd annual coat drive will once again benefit the children of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. We are accepting new and/or gently used children’s coats, hats and gloves; infant through size 14.

Coats, hats and gloves can be dropped off at our leasing department at 41 Chicago Avenue in Oak Park, during normal business hours: Monday – Friday, 9 to 5 and Saturday, 10 – 4. Our staff will deliver the coats to the 29th ward just in time for the cold winter season.

All types of coats are needed! As we all know winter in Chicago can be harsh – windy, cold and snowy weather is just around the corner and every child deserves to be warm.  Please, whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated!


Studio Apartment Pros

Bigger is not always better.

Oak Park Apartments is seeing the “less is more” trend in the apartment market. Studio apartments have become the most sought after units for some very common sense reasons.

  • The # 1 reason to rent a studio apartment is less space = less cost.  The rent is less, the utilities are less & you don’t need to spend much to furnish your space./li>
  • Since a studio costs less you’ll be able to afford that smaller apartment in the hipper neighborhood or cooler apartment building.
  • Money saved on rent allows you to dine out, go to movies, concerts, plays, travel…. in other words you don’t have to be confined to your 4 walls because studio living is more affordable to begin with.
  • Your own space – no roommate issues.
  • There are fabulous designs for smaller spaces – living small is all the rage!
  • Not much space to clean – you can spend your time doing fun stuff, so put away the vacuum!
  • Guests won’t be a problem for more than a day or two!

Apartment Fire Prevention Tips – 2017

October 8th, 2017 began 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, leaving over 100,000 people homeless and destroying more than 2,000 acres of property, the effects of the Great Chicago Fire still resonate.

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.  No matter what the true reason the effects of that fire were devastating and why 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 four 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. Remember to switch off the burner when you are done.
  • 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.  If you need a reminder set a timer.
  • Keep heating equipment at least three feet away from combustible materials.
  • 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 time changes in the 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.