ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (AP) – A property management company owned by the family of former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has agreed to pay a $3.25 million civil fine and restitution to settle a 2019 lawsuit. in Maryland over allegations of illegally charging tenants fees and failing to maintain properties, Attorney General Brian Frosh announced Friday.
Frosh announced that his office’s Consumer Protection Division has reached an agreement with Westminster Management, LLC, a New Jersey-based corporation, and the 25 companies that own or have owned 17 residential communities managed by Westminster Management in Maryland.
The settlement addresses allegations that Westminster and the owners violated the Consumer Protection Act.
The attorney general said in a press release that the properties in question contained more than 9,000 rental units in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County. The settlement will potentially pay restitution to thousands of current and former residents of the communities, the attorney general’s office said.
The settlement, contained in a final order issued by the Division of Consumer Protection, requires Westminster to return excessive application fees to consumers; improper agent fees, warrant fees and court fees charged in summary ejection actions; small credit balances improperly withheld by the company; and security deposit interest that has not been paid to unoccupied tenants.
“Tenants of Westminster properties have suffered from mold, leaks, flooding and rodent, cockroach and bed bug infestations,” said Frosh, Democrat. “Management hid these conditions only to reveal them to their tenants after they were locked into long-term leases. Westminster knew the conditions of his properties and charged tenants illegal fees for living in these miserable conditions. Westminster’s conduct was inconceivable.”
Westminster is not admitting wrongdoing in the deal.
“Westminster is pleased to have resolved this litigation without admission of liability or wrongdoing,” Peter Febo, chief operating officer of Kushner Cos.′ said in a statement. “We look forward to getting over this matter so we can focus on our ever-expanding real estate portfolio.”
Kushner stepped down as chief executive of Kushner Cos. in 2017, when he became a senior White House adviser to President Donald Trump.
To handle the charges, the agreement provides for a complaints procedure whereby current and previous tenants of Westminster-managed properties can make claims to a special master, who can return rent to consumers if, during their tenancies, they have faced serious maintenance issues. that impacted their use and enjoyment of their apartments, including leaks or floods; rodent, cockroach or bed bug infestations; or lack of electricity, water, hot water, heating or air conditioning.
Kushner’s family-owned real estate company owns thousands of apartments and homes in the Baltimore area. Some have been criticized for the same kind of neglect and neglect that Trump accused local leaders of failing to address, when he referred to Baltimore as a “rat and rodent-infested mess” in 2019.