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- Maryland’s attorney general is suing an apartment management company owned by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and his family, alleging “hundreds of thousands of violations” against mainly low-income tenants and middle-class families in Baltimore.
- Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in his statement of charges filed Wednesday that those named in the suit “victimized consumers, many of whom are financially vulnerable,” and rented out properties that were so badly maintained, the conditions posed a health risk to renters.
- “[Tenants] have had to endure living in units that are infested by rodents and vermin, plagued with water leaks that have caused mold and other issues, and, at times, lacking in basic utilities,” the statement of charges said.
- Kushner has previously been referred to as a “slumlord” by some of the tenants of his Baltimore properties.
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Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, has become embroiled in a lawsuit between the state of Maryland and the real estate management company he partially owns over alleged illegal fees and rat-infested properties in Baltimore.
According to a statement, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, the Consumer Protection Division leveled charges against Westminster Management, the management wing of the real estate firm Kushner Companies, and “the 25 companies that own or previously owned 17 residential communities managed by Westminster Management.”
The companies are accused of committing “hundreds of thousands of violations” against the mainly lower-income to middle-class tenants that live in their rental properties. Westminster Management and the other firms “victimized consumers, many of whom are financially vulnerable, at all stages of offering and leasing,” Frosh’s office argued in a statement of charges filed Wednesday.
The statement of charges also alleges that the companies conducted operations without the proper licensing and collected illegal fees from tenants while “often failing to make repairs needed to maintain suitable environments.”
Frosh said that Westminster Management and the other 25 companies rented out properties that were so badly maintained, the conditions posed a health risk to renters.
“[Tenants] have had to endure living in units that are infested by rodents and vermin, plagued with water leaks that have caused mold and other issues, and, at times, lacking in basic utilities,” the statement said.
It added that some of the rodent infestations in the properties were so bad, rats lived and died in the walls and appliances of the units and left widespread damages to the property like chewing through drywall and leaving excrement around the living areas.
Though the filing does not specify an amount sought in damages, Frosh suggested that the number could equal to millions of dollars given the scope of the violations, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Kushner has been called a ‘slumlord’
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Kushner stepped down as CEO of Kushner Cos. when he joined the White House in 2017, “but he still has an ownership stake in the subsidiary,” the Associated Press reported. A 2017 New York Times and ProPublica investigation done by Alec MacGillis said that “his share of company-related trusts is estimated to be worth at least $600 million,” in relation to Kushner Cos.
Kushner Cos. CEO Laurent Morali told the Sun that Frosh’s claim’s were “bogus” and politically motivated.
“We refuse to be extorted by an ambitious Attorney General who clearly cares more about scoring political points than fighting real crime and improving the lives of the people of Maryland,” he stated.
Frosh on Wednesday told The Sun that the Kushner-linked businesses were “cheating” tenants.
“It has nothing to do with the administration,” Frosh said, according to The Sun. “This is purely a Maryland issue: a Maryland management company and landlords that we feel have repeatedly and consistently violated our Consumer Protection Act. It doesn’t make any difference who owns it.”
“They caused serious harm and suffering to the people who lived in their units,” he said.
Kushner has previously been referred to as a “slumlord” by some of the tenants of his Baltimore properties, and the 2017 investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times revealed that Kushner Cos. Baltimore units were reported to have leaking ceilings, maggots in living-room carpet, and raw human sewage coming from a kitchen sink.
Several of the Kushner Companies’ other properties, including a massive flagship skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, have been plagued with financial trouble.
Baltimore County officials announced in 2017 that Kushner would be fined for more than 200 code violations in apartments owned by Kushner Companies.
“We expect all landlords to comply with the code requirements that protect the health and safety of their tenants, even if the landlord’s father-in-law is President of the United States,” the statement said.
Kushner Cos. and Westminster Management did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.