Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Kushner Companies Westminster Management LLC and 25 property owners alleging illegal and harmful rental practices, according to a release from the attorney general’s office.
“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,” Frosh said in the release.
Kushner Companies belongs to the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser.
The lawsuit comes after Kushner Companies rejected a settlement offer from Maryland last month.
Laurent Morali, president of Kushner Companies, responded to the lawsuit by accusing Frosh of being politically motivated.
“We refuse to be extorted by an ambitious attorney general who clearly cares more about scoring political points than fighting real crime and improving the lives of the people of Maryland,” Morali said. “We look forward to defending ourselves against these bogus allegations.”
The suit alleges that Kushner Companies and the property owners “demanded, collected, and retained hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegitimate fees from prospective and actual tenants, including charging application fees that exceeded the amounts permitted under Maryland law.”
The defendants have also been charged with repeatedly violating Maryland’s security deposit law, after Westminster Management and the owners “routinely withheld damages from tenants’ security deposits that were not caused by the tenants and constituted ordinary wear and tear, such as worn carpeting,” according to the release.
In 2017, Frosh launched an investigation after media reports exposed allegedly coercive tactics and inadequate maintenance in multifamily housing developments run by Westminster Management or related entities. An affiliate of Kushner Companies, Westminster manages about 21 properties in Maryland, including developments in Baltimore, Middle River and Essex, according to its website.