The real estate firm owned by the family of presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner hasn’t been keeping its Baltimore County apartment buildings up to code, according to county officials.
Kevin Kamenetz’s office announced today that Kushner Companies-affiliate Westminster Management was found to have committed more than 200 code violations with its properties so far in 2017. When notified that payments could be withheld and fines levied, the company made repairs in all but nine properties, the county said.
“Repairs were made only after the County threatened to withhold rent or issue fines,” said Kamenetz, Baltimore County’s executive, in a statement.
Westminster Management’s website shows it operates 15 properties in Baltimore City and County.
Kamenetz also called the company out for defending itself as “in compliance with all state and local laws” to media outlets in recent stories calling its practices into question: “It is a stretch of truth to assert they are in compliance with all laws when more than 200 code violations were observed by our inspectors in just the past 10 months.”
Kamenetz, who’s running for governor next year, has been critical of President Donald Trump since he took office in January. He fit a reference to the president into his remarks today: “We expect all landlords to comply with the code requirements that protect the health and safety of their tenants, even if the landlord’s father-in-law is President of the United States.”
The Kushner Companies have come under scrutiny in Maryland once again after CNN reported Sunday that Attorney General Brian Frosh is investigating the firm for its property management and debt-collection practices in Maryland.
Earlier this year, Alec MacGillis, writing for ProPublica and The New York Times, exposed a pattern of alleged neglectful management and aggressive litigating against poor tenants by the company. The Baltimore Sun also found the firm had a habit of relying on civil arrests to get low-income tenants to pay back their debts. Some former renters described living among vermin, moving out due to mold issues and being sued for breaking their leases.
In response to the reports, the company reiterated that it had complied with all laws and had an obligation to collect any unpaid rent or other fees from customers.
Six of Maryland’s members of Congress have also inquired about the Kushner Companies, asking the company to hand over documents in order to see if it violated federal housing law, as it accepts Housing and Urban Development vouchers that carry certain requirements for living conditions.
Kamenetz’s office said Westminster Management owns 701 HUD-supported units in the county. Inspectors found 173 instances of failure to meet standards in those units, and issued 35 correction notices.
Six times, the county withheld HUD payments “in order to mandate the repairs,” according to Kamenetz’s office. After the company failed to make repairs on three properties, the county fined the company $3,500 – a drop in the bucket for the Kushner Companies.
Kushner stepped away from his position as the company’s CEO before taking a job in the White House early this year.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Westminster Management as Winchester Management. We regret the error.
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