BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is suing a company owned by Jared Kushner and his family for allegedly hazardous conditions in rentals across Baltimore city, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County as well as illegal rental practices.
The properties were owned by Westminster Management, LLC, a New Jersey-based corporation. Frosh is also suing 25 companies that owned or previously owned 17 residential communities managed by Westminster Management in Maryland. It includes nearly 9,000 rentals.READ MORE: Pentagon On Lockdown For 'Shooting Event' At Transit Center
According to the lawsuit, “Westminster Management and the rental property owners misrepresented the quality of the rental units and the level of maintenance that they would provide, and they routinely failed to address hazardous conditions in the properties, including rodent and vermin infestations, water leaks, and mold growth, forcing tenants to vacate their homes or live in unsanitary conditions.”
Frosh also alleges that Westminster Management and property owners demanded, collected and retained hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegitimate fees from prospective and actual tenants, including charging application fees that exceed the amount allowed in Maryland.
Landlords can only charge $25 or their actual costs to process the application. Although the owners didn’t incure costs of more than $25, Frosh alleges they charged people more than $25 to apply for rentals.
Property owners also allegedly filed evictions actions against tenants who were late paying rent, as well as additional fees that were never incurred or fees not entitled to be collected under Maryland law.
Frosh also is charging Westminster Management and the owners with repeatedly violating Maryland’s Security Deposit Law. According to the statement, it “allows landlords to collect security deposits from their tenants, but requires the deposits to be returned to the tenant, along with an accounting of any amounts deducted for lost rent, damages due to breach of lease, and damages to the rental property in excess of ordinary wear and tear.”
Westminster allegedly charged for worn carpets.
Frosh also alleged that Westminster Management collected debt illegally even though they don’t have a license to collect debt.READ MORE: 2 Men Shot In Baltimore Monday Night, Tuesday Morning
Two Baltimore City properties, Dutch Village Apartments and Pleasantview Apartments, failed to maintain the multi-family dwelling licenses required to legally rent apartments to consumers.
“We allege that the property owners and their property management company violated numerous consumer protection laws, which harmed thousands of Maryland consumers,” said Attorney General Frosh. “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 named in the lawsuit are: Carriage Hill Apartments, Carroll Park Apartments, Charlesmont Apartment Homes, the Commons at White Marsh Apartments, Cove Village Apartments, Dutch Village Apartments, Essex Park Apartments and Townhomes, Fontana Village Apartments, Gwynn Oaks Landing Apartments, Hamilton Manor Apartments, Harbor Point Estates, Highland Village Townhomes, Morningside Park Townhomes, Pleasantview Apartments, Princeton Estates Apartment Homes, Riverview Townhomes, and Whispering Woods Apartments.
The Attorney General’s charged apply to the following property owners: Westminster Management, LLC; Carriage Hill Investment Limited Partnership; Carroll Park Holdings LLC; Commons at Whitemarsh I, II, V, LLC, Commons at Whitemarsh III, LLC; Commons at Whitemarsh IVA, LLC; Commons at Whitemarsh IVB, LLC; Dutch Village, LLC; Essex Park Holdings LLC; Fontana, LLC; Hamilton Manor Apartments, LLC; Harbor Point Estates I, II, IV, LLC; Harbor Point Estates III, LLC; Highland #179, LLC; Highland #241, LLLP; Highland #689, LLC; Morningside Park Holdings LLC; Pleasantview, LLC; Princeton Estates Limited Partnership; Riverview Apartments, LLC; RP Cove Village, LLC; SRH Charlesmont, LLC; SRH Fox Haven, LLC; SRH Woodmoor, LLC; Whispering Woods #250, LLC; and Whispering Woods #299 Limited Partnership.
Frosh is asking for an injunction that Westminster and the property owners to “stop charging illegal fees, maintain the required licenses, to cease and desist engaging in unfair and deceptive practices, and to provide the safe and sanitary properties that they promise.”
Frosh is also seeking restitution and penalties for violations of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act. The Division has requested that a hearing on its Statement of Charges begin on January 21, 2020.
Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, stepped down as CEO of the family business before joining the White House. But he still has an ownership stake in the subsidiary.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In Maryland: Over 300 Hospitalized As Key Metrics Continue Rise
Laurent Morali, the president of the Kushner Cos., told the Associated Press the company looks forward to fighting “these bogus allegations.” Morali says the attorney general cares more about “scoring political points” than fighting crime.