ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A property management company owned by the family of former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has agreed to pay $3.25 million in civil penalties and restitution to settle a 2019 lawsuit in Maryland over allegations that charging tenants with illegal fees and refusing to maintain the property, Attorney General Brian Frosh announced on Friday.
Frosch announced that his office’s consumer protection division has reached a settlement with Westminster Management, LLC, a New Jersey corporation, and 25 companies that own or are owned by 17 residential neighborhoods managed by Westminster Management in Maryland.
The settlement addresses allegations that Westminster and the property owners violated the Consumer Protection Act.
The attorney general said in a press release that the properties in question included more than 9,000 rental units in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County. According to the attorney general’s office, the settlement will potentially pay restitution to thousands of current and former residents of the communities.
The settlement, contained in a final order entered by the Division of Consumer Protection, requires Westminster to refund excessive application fees to consumers; improper agent’s fees, court fees and legal costs recovered in foreclosure lawsuits; small credit balances that have been improperly maintained by the company; and interest on the security deposit that was not paid to the released tenant.
“Tenants at Westminster properties have suffered from mold, leaks, flooding and infestations of rodents, roaches and bed bugs,” said Frosh, a Democrat. “Management hid these terms only to reveal them to tenants after they had entered into long-term leases. Westminster knew the state of his property and charged tenants illegal fees to live in these deplorable conditions. Westminster’s behavior was dishonest.’
Westminster admits no wrongdoing as part of the agreement.
“Westminster is pleased to settle this lawsuit without an admission of liability or wrongdoing,” Peter Febo, chief operating officer of Kushner Cos., said in a statement. “We look forward to this matter passing so that we can focus on our ever-expanding portfolio of properties.”
Kushner stepped down as CEO of Kushner Cos. in 2017, when he became a senior adviser to President Donald Trump’s White House.
To address the allegations, the agreement includes a complaints procedure where current and past tenants of Westminster-managed properties can make claims to a special landlord who can refund rent to consumers if they have experienced serious maintenance issues during their tenancy that have affected their their use and enjoyment of their apartments, including leaks or floods; infestation by rodents, roaches or bedbugs; or no electricity, water, hot water, heat or air conditioning.
The Kushner family real estate firm owns thousands of apartments and townhouses in the Baltimore area. Some have been criticized for the same desolation and neglect that Trump accused local leaders of when he called Baltimore a “rat and rodent infested mess” in 2019.