Jared Kushner’s Real Estate Company Just Got Sued

“They kept taking me to court for eviction and piling on the fees. I just want to keep my family safe.”

Yin Bogu/Zuma

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Tenants from Maryland apartment complexes owned by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, sued Kushner’s real estate company Wednesday. The suit against Westminster Management, filed in Baltimore circuit court, alleges that the company has instituted an illegal system of “fee-churning” at its housing complexes that leads to endless debt and evictions for residents.

The class action lawsuit, filed by two tenants on behalf of residents from all 17 Maryland complexes managed by Westminster, outlines how the management company reportedly charges a 5 percent late fee on top of several other fees. After charging these fees, Westminster then allegedly misallocates rent payments to cover them, leading subsequent rent payments to also be classified as late because they are incomplete, creating a cycle of debt and spurring attempts by Westminster to evict residents. 

“I would pay my rent, and if I was late, I would pay a 5 percent late fee, but the fees kept adding up,” plaintiff Tenae Smith, a tenant at Dutch Village apartments, said in a press release announcing the suit. “One time I paid the rent, and they sent back my check telling me that I needed to pay an additional $150 in fees or they wouldn’t take my rent. I work full-time and made regular payments, but they kept taking me to court for eviction and piling on the fees. I just want to keep my family safe and stable as the kids go back to school.”

If tenants do not pay the improper fees, Westminster will file summary eviction proceedings to collect these fees, even if the tenant is up to date on rent payments. The suit alleges that on top of their late fees, Westminster regularly charges tenants vague “legal” fees—including “agent” fees and “court” fees—that aren’t tied to any court ruling. Sometimes, they’ll charge the fees before any action has even been filed in court. 

“The routine practice of charging tenants illegal fees combined with filing eviction proceedings against tenants who have paid their rent on time is predatory and destructive to hard-working Marylanders and their families,” said Chelsea Ortega, attorney at Santoni, Vocci & Ortega, LLC—one of the law firms representing the tenants. “This is yet another example of corporations profiting from deceptive policies.”

You can read the full complaint here:



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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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