The real estate company once run by Jared Kushner is facing charges by the state alleging illegal and harmful rental practices. Kushner is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House adviser.
Westminster Management LLC and the 25 companies that own or previously owned residential communities it managed are named in the statement of charges announced by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General on Wednesday.
“We allege that the property owners and their property management company violated numerous consumer protection laws, which harmed thousands of Maryland consumers,” Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said in a statement. “We’re charging that Westminster and the rental property owners in this case took advantage of consumers, primarily low- and middle-income families, collecting fees and other unlawful costs from them and often failing to make the repairs needed to maintain suitable environments for their tenants.”
The properties in question include nearly 9,000 rental units in Baltimore city and Baltimore and Prince George’s counties, according to the charges. Westminster Management is run by the Kushner Cos. Kushner himself stepped down as CEO of the business before he joined the White House as an adviser.
Laurent Morali, president of the Kushner Cos., said last month that the company rejected a settlement offer from the attorney general because it refused to be “extorted.” Morali accused Frosh of trying to “score political points” instead of focusing on helping Maryland residents.
The charges claim Westminster Management and the property owners misrepresented the quality of rental units as well as the level of maintenance they would provide and failed to address hazardous conditions, forcing tenants to vacate their homes because of vermin infestations, leaks and mold. The companies are also accused of demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal fees from tenants and violating state law on security deposits and debt collection.
The Attorney General’s Office is seeking an injunction requiring the companies to stop charging illegal fees, to maintain required licenses, to stop engaging in unfair and deceptive practices, and to provide safe and secure properties. The charges seek restitution and penalties for violations of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act.
A separate lawsuit seeking class-action status for residents alleges Westminster Management often charges tenants illegal and excessive fees that keep tenants in constant fear of eviction and in doubt about what they owe. Westminster has said it has broken no laws and denies the charges.
The lawsuit is pending in Baltimore City Circuit Court.