The state of Maryland has reached a settlement with a property management company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) announced on Friday.
Westminster Management LLC, the New Jersey-based company owned by Kushner family interests, and several other corporate entities that own or owned 17 residential communities managed by Westminster Management, will pay a $3.25 million civil penalty and restitution. It’s a settlement of a 2019 lawsuit in Maryland over allegations that the company charged tenants illegal fees and failed to maintain as many as 9,000 rental properties in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County.
However, under the settlement, the company admits no wrongdoing.
Nevertheless, the agreement will potentially pay restitution to thousands of current and former residents of the developments, the attorney general’s office said.
Frosh called the company’s behavior “unconscionable.”
“Tenants in Westminster properties suffered with mold, leaks, floods and infestations of rodents, roaches and bedbugs,” Frosh said. “Management hid these conditions only to reveal them to their tenants after they were locked into long-term leases. Westminster knew the condition of its properties, and it charged tenants illegal fees to live in those miserable conditions. Westminster’s conduct was unconscionable.”
Kushner stepped down as chief executive of Kushner Cos. in 2017 to become a senior White House adviser to President Trump, his father-in-law.
“Westminster is pleased to have settled this litigation with no admission of liability or wrongdoing,” Peter Febo, Kushner Cos.′ chief operating officer, said in a statement provided to the Associated Press. “We look forward to moving past this matter so that we can focus on our ever-expanding real estate portfolio.”
The settlement provides for a claims procedure where current and past tenants of 17 properties managed by Westminster can make claims to a special master, who can return rent to consumers if, during their time as tenants, they faced serious maintenance issues that impacted their use and enjoyment of their apartments, including leaks or floods; rodent, roach, or bedbug infestations; or a lack of electricity, water, hot water, heat or air conditioning.
The 17 properties in question are:
- Carriage Hill Apartments in Suitland
- Carroll Park Apartments in Baltimore
- Charlesmont Apartment Homes in Dundalk
- The Commons at White Marsh Apartments in White Marsh
- Core Village Apartments in Essex
- Dutch Village Apartments in Baltimore
- Essex Park Apartments and Townhomes in Essex
- Fontana Village Apartments in Rosedale
- Gwynn Oaks Landing Apartments in Lochearn
- Hamilton Manor Apartments in Hyattsville
- Highland Village Townhomes in Halethorpe
- Morningside Park Townhomes in Middle River
- Pleasantview Apartments in Baltimore
- Princeton Estates Apartment Homes in Temple Hills
- Riverview Townhomes in Halethorpe
- Whispering Woods Apartments in Middle River
Consumers who are entitled to relief under the settlement will receive claims forms on which they can make maintenance-related claims or will receive payments if they were charged improper fees or are owed other amounts under the settlement, Frosh’s office said.
Under a new law passed this year in the General Assembly, any unclaimed payments through this settlement will be transferred to the state’s Access to Counsel in Evictions Special Fund, which provides legal representation to low-income tenants. The bill, sponsored by Del. Samuel Rosenberg (D-Baltimore City) and Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County), became law without Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.