Rats and Mold in Kushner-Managed Apartments, Maryland Claims

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Rats and Mold in Kushner-Managed Apartments, Maryland Claims(Bloomberg) — An apartment management firm run by Jared Kushner’s family was sued by Maryland’s attorney general, who claims the company engaged in numerous “illegal and harmful” practices.Westminster Management lied about the quality of rental units and the level of maintenance the company would provide, routinely failing to address hazardous conditions in the properties, including infestations by rodents and other vermin, water leaks and mold growth, Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a statement.“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.Westminster Management is a unit of Kushner Cos., a family-run, New York-based business that owns, manages and develops properties and was built on working-class apartment complexes in New Jersey and Maryland. Some of the properties in the suit are owned by other companies but managed by Westminster.Kushner Cos. was run by Jared Kushner before he joined the administration of President Donald Trump, his father-in-law. Charles Kushner, Jared Kushner’s father, has said his family firm has been unfairly targeted since his son became a key adviser to the president. In July, Trump attacked the Baltimore district of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, describing it as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Cummings died last week.The suit, an administrative proceeding by the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit, comes about a month after Laurent Morali, president of Kushner Cos., said Westminster had rejected an offer from Frosh to settle a long-running probe into how its tenants were treated, according to the Associated Press.“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.”A statement of charges in the suit describes “rodents living and dying in walls and kitchen appliances” and cockroaches that have “crawled into consumers’ food.” Various plumbing problems cause “water-logged carpeting; holes in walls and ceilings; sagging, buckling and collapsing ceilings; and the stench of mildew and sewage,” according to the filing.Kushner Cos. has also battled Steven Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, where the company wants to build a mixed-use tower. Fulop “has expressly acknowledged to several people on the phone and in meetings that Kushner Companies is being unfairly and blatantly discriminated against by Jersey City simply because its former CEO works in the Trump administration,” a spokeswoman told Bloomberg last year.In New York, the company was targeted last year for failing to disclose rent-regulated tenants when applying for construction permits in Queens. The disclosure is required to protect such tenants from being forced out of their homes. In a statement at the time, the company said the filings were prepared by a third party.(Updates with details of allegations and with Kushner Cos.’ view that it has been unfairly targeted)–With assistance from Andrew Harris.To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in Federal Court in Manhattan at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net;Caleb Melby in New York at cmelby@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter JeffreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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