OPA Blog




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.

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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.

Tenant Responsibilities

When you own your own home it is a given that you are responsible for the mortgage, taxes, repairs, maintenance, etc…  but when you are a tenant what your responsibilities are can be less clear cut.

When you rent an apartment you become responsible for that space because it becomes your home.  Of course everyone knows that they must pay their rent and pay it on time but many renters do not realize what their other responsibilities are. 

  • Limit the number of people living in the home to the number of people allowed according to your lease.
  • No Smoking. Oak Park Apartments properties are smoke free.
  • Notify OPA through our on-line tenant portal when regular maintenance repairs are needed.
  • Damages that may occur due to you or your guests are your personal responsibility.
  • Keep your apartment and common areas clean and in good condition.
  • Maintain your smoke/carbon monoxide detector.  While OPA is responsible for making sure all apartments have detectors it is the tenant who is responsible for testing and replacing the batteries at minimum yearly.
  • Change the lightbulbs in your apartment.  May seem obvious but there is always someone who puts in a maintenance request when they have a lightbulb burn out in their apartment.  Common areas are a different story – please notify the office when lightbulbs need replacing in all common areas.
  • Respect the neighbors. Keep noise to a level that will not disturb others.
  • Purchase Renters Insurance. If there is a fire or a water leak, for example, OPA is responsible for fixing the apartment not replacing your personal belongings.
  • Leave your apartment in the same condition as when you moved in when you are moving out, less normal wear and tear of course and return the keys promptly.  This will also help to ensure you receive your security deposit back in full.


The 411 on 911’s

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:

Call Oak Park Apartments emergency number at 708-406-8644 to report a problem if:

No Heat

  • 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.
  • Boiler FYI – boilers do 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.

Central Air Conditioning/Heating Systems Issues

  • A few of our properties have central air conditioning/heating systems in the apartment unit.  If either of these systems are not working, especially during times of extreme temperatures, excessive heat/cold, and it is AFTER normal business hours please contact OPA’s emergency number and report the issue.

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.


  • 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.

And as always, when dealing with a difficult or emergent situation we understand that it is stressful but please remember that we truly want to provide solutions. Unfortunately there will be times when problems are not within our control or cannot be immediately fixed. During those times we ask for your patience and understanding as we try to solve your issues.


Top Car Theft Prevention Tips

Oak Park Apartments believes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when dealing with crime and by following these few helpful tips you can decrease your chances of being victimized by a car thief.

  • Always lock your door, roll up your windows and employ the alarm system, if you have one. You would be surprised how many cars are burglarized because a door was simply left unlocked and the car and its’ contents were ripe for the picking.
  • Never leave any valuables out in the open.  In fact, when practical, always remove your valuables from the car when you leave the vehicle.  Thieves are opportunists and if they can see your laptop, cell phone, important documents or even gym bag they may be tempted to break into your vehicle.  If you must leave valuables in the car, lock them in your trunk or hide from plain sight.
  • This might seem obvious but never leave your car keys in your car – running or just unattended – it only takes a thief a split second to jump in your car and take off.
  • Never leave the registration in your car. If stolen, this makes it easier for the thief to dispose of your vehicle. Keep it with your drivers license and keep both with you.
  • Do not keep a spare key hidden in the car – an experienced thief will be able to find that in no time.
  • Whenever you approach your vehicle be alert and have your keys in your hands. Check outside and inside your vehicle for suspicious individuals. Immediately leave the scene if anything appears suspicious. Call the police.
  • If you are rear ended, call the police from your car immediately. Take a picture from inside your car of the offending vehicle/license plate if you are able.  Do not get out of your vehicle if anything appears suspicious until the police arrive.

Are You A Good Roommate?

It’s easy to point the finger at the other guy when troubles arise in any relationship but truly the most effective way to help any situation is to analyze what you can do to better get along.

  • Set Expectations From The Start. Go into a roommate relationship with some established rules on cleaning, expenses, food, visitors, etc.  When roomies are on the same page it is easier to get along!
  • Respect. Know personal boundaries and respect them.  Whether it’s noise, personal space, cleanliness, etc… No one wants a roommate that won’t be respectful – so know when to turn down your music, knock when your roommates door is closed, pick up your wet towels off the bathroom floor – all ways of showing you respect someone else.
  • Don’t Eat Your Room Mates Food. Just a big no-no.  I remember the time in college when a roommate snuck into a care package, ate a Hershey’s chocolate bar and then put the wrapper back together so it looked as if the candy was still there. Like it wouldn’t be noticed?  Ask, replace, respect and yes, then you can share each others food.
  • Split Expenses Equally. No one likes a cheapskate as a roommate.  Even if your roommate might be better off financially then you it is not their responsibility to shoulder more of the expenses.  Pull your weight.
  • Communicate. When there are issues set aside some time to talk it out rationally.
  • Humor.  Using a little humor to help communicate issues can make all the difference.

Oak Park Parking Guidelines & Restrictions

Living in historic Oak Park in a vintage apartment has many advantages – cool community, historic vibe, stunning architecture, vibrant city feel without some of the big city frustrations like parking.

Yes, many complain about the parking rules and regulations in Oak Park but in reality the parking here is so much easier and less expensive then if you lived in Chicago.  And Oak Park is always trying to figure out ways to improve the situation. Recently the Village held several forums to discuss and collect resident input on ways to simplify and improve parking throughout the community.

Presently these are Oak Park’s parking guidelines and restrictions:

Parking is prohibited on all streets from 2:30 to 6 a.m., seven days per week, year around, except when allowed by permit or pass.

Vehicles bearing permits are allowed to park on the street overnight in designated multifamily housing areas, except in front of churches, schools and parks and on blocks where housing is more than 50 percent single family.

In areas of Oak Park not zoned for multi-unit buildings or designated as permit areas, the overnight parking ban remains fully in effect.

Other parking restrictions are determined by location within the Village, length of parking time and even weather. For example, daytime restrictions include the following:

  • No parking 8 – 10 a.m., Monday – Friday
  • Two-hour parking 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday
  • No Parking 8 – 10 a.m., Tuesday for Street Cleaning
  • Resident Permit Parking Only
  • Student/staff permit parking only

At many of Oak Park Apartments properties parking is readily available for and additional fee – either through building owned and regulated parking, village owned and operated lots, spaces privately rented by neighborhood homeowners or in village designated on-street permit parking zones.

What do you do if you have an overnight visitor who has a car?

The Village of Oak Park will issue 3 free parking passes per year with an additional 7 passes for a fee for cars needing to park overnight on the street.  Residents must notify the Village every night if an overnight parking pass is needed.  This can be done by going online, downloading and using the Village parking app or calling in the vehicle at 708-716-0716. You will need to know and report the make, model and license plate of the vehicle that will be overnight on the street.


Aikia’s Peacock – An Off The Wall Mosaic Masterpiece

This year’s “Off The Wall” mosaic project at Oak Park Apartment’s newest property, located at 401 – 403 Washington Boulevard, is complete and presented more of a challenge than the mosaics of earlier years.

This year we went bold.  Our Washington Boulevard property had an empty brick expanse on the front of the building that screamed for some Off The Wall love and attention.

We, at OPA, love the artistry and design of the Oak Park Area Arts Council’s Off The Wall masterpieces so we felt that adding the art to the front of this 1950’s California-style apartment would enhance the look of the building.

Yet, the reality is we may not own the building forever. Future owners may have other ideas on how they want the front of their building to look so, if ever that time came, we wanted to be able to remove, relocate and protect the beauty of our peacock.

In past years the mosaics adhered to the buildings’ bricks – not a big deal if the artwork is on the back of the apartment but something we needed to consider since the design would be a front and center focus.

How do we adhere the tile design to the front of the building so it’s secure, doesn’t negatively impact the mosaic design and, if ever needed, we could remove while still preserving the design’s integrity?

Collaboration was key to finding a solution.

Master artist Carolyn Elaine and Oak Park Apartments co-owner Bob Planek joined forces to make sure that this year’s project would work both creatively and be engineeringly workable.

And boy did their teamwork pay off! Using concrete slabs as the base, the mosaics were constructed on seven individual pieces, framed in aluminum and then placed together – and wow we are proud as, well, a peacock at the end results.

Aikia & Carolyn at the 2016 Off The Wall dedication

peacock is a symbol of “integrity and the beauty we can achieve when we show our true colors”.  These are the qualities that inspired this year’s masterpiece to be named in honor of assistant master artist, Aikia.  

Aikia has spent many years mentoring the programs’ teen artists as they reach their full potential as they take part in the Oak Park Area Arts Council’s Off The Wall summer project.