Kushner Files to Evict Tenants During Pandemic
Never one to let an ongoing pandemic get in the way of collecting the rent, Jared Kushner’s property management company has filed legal paperwork to evict hundreds of families living in its rental properties in Maryland.
The Washington Post interviewed dozens of tenants of the Westminster Management company and reviewed scores of company court filings. Many tenants in Westminster properties who are facing eviction live on low or middle incomes in modest apartments in the Baltimore area, according to tenants. Some of them told The Washington Post they fell behind on rent after losing jobs or wages due to the pandemic.
Yolanda Coates, who lives at a Westminster-owned property called Bonnie Ridge in Pikesville, Md., said she has been able to keep her day job at a local child-care facility but has occasionally fallen behind on rent. As recently as Sept. 25, Westminster charged her court fees in an ongoing eviction case that it filed last year.
“If you don’t pay before the fifth of the month, they still send out an eviction notice,” Coates told The Post.
A state eviction moratorium currently bars Maryland courts from removing tenants from their homes and a federal moratorium offers renters additional protection. But like other landlords around the country, Westminster has been sending letters to tenants threatening legal fees and then filing eviction notices in court ― a first legal step toward removing tenants.
Westminster, a unit of the Kushner Cos., issued a statement from Kushner Cos. general counsel Christopher W. Smith saying the company was fully compliant with state and federal eviction bans. Even though Kushner’s company is barred right now from actually evicting tenants it still is adding court filing fees to tenants bills, adding to their financial stress.
Westminster manages more than 20,000 apartments and this is not the first time its management practices have been criticized. The Maryland attorney general has sued the company for charging improper application and eviction fees, wrongly withholding tenants security deposits and providing shoddy maintenance service in many of its properties.
When he joined father-in-law Donald Trump in the White House, Kushner resigned from his family’s business but maintained ownership in Westminster. It paid him $1.65 million in 2019, according to his government disclosure form.