WASHINGTON — An apartment management company partly owned by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald J. Trump, has agreed to pay a $3.25 million penalty and make restitution to hundreds of tenants who were overcharged fees and subject to leaks, rodents and mold infestations, the Maryland attorney general said on Friday.
Westminster Management, the property management arm of Kushner Corporations, and 25 affiliated businesses that owned nearly 9,000 units across the Baltimore area have agreed to settle a 2019 lawsuit over their rental practices. The businesses violated consumer protection laws by charging tenants illegal fees and didn’t adequately maintain the properties, the lawsuit said.
“It is a case through which landlords deceived and cheated their tenants, after which subjected them to miserable living conditions,” the Maryland attorney general, Brian Frosh, a Democrat, said in a news conference announcing the settlement. “The tenants weren’t wealthy people. Many struggled to pay the rent, keep food on the table, deal with their kids, keep everybody healthy. And Westminster used its vastly superior economic power to benefit from them.”
Under the settlement, former and current tenants at 17 properties can file claims to get well a bunch of fees that Mr. Frosh said the corporate had improperly charged them. They may also file claims with an out of doors arbiter, often called a special master, who can return rental payments to tenants in the event that they faced serious maintenance issues.
Mr. Frosh, within the 2019 lawsuit, accused Westminster and affiliated firms of misrepresenting the standard of units and the extent of maintenance they would offer, and of also failing to repair unsanitary conditions.
Kushner Corporations initially rejected a settlement offer in 2019. An administrative law judge present in 2021 that Westminster’s violations of consumer protection laws were “widespread and various.”
In a press release to The Baltimore Banner on Friday, the chief operating officer for Kushner Corporations, Peter Febo, said it was “pleased to have settled this litigation with no admission of liability or wrongdoing.”
An investigation of the corporate by The Recent York Times and ProPublica in 2017 detailed the abject conditions at Westminster’s dwellings in Baltimore and its litigiousness against tenants. Mr. Kushner stepped down as the corporate’s chief executive that January, when he became a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, but he retained most of his stake in his family business.
On the news conference on Friday, former tenants described miserable living conditions and neglectful management: repeated failure to deal with leaks and floods, haphazard fixes, collapsing partitions, mold infestations, eviction threats and tales of mice, dead and alive.
“I expected to receive services that we paid for, to find a way to offer, on the very least, our children a protected and healthy home,” one tenant said. “And as a mom, I feel like with Westminster I failed.”