A judge in Maryland has ruled that an apartment company co-owned by Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, repeatedly violated state consumer protection laws by collecting debts without required licenses, charging tenants improper fees and misrepresenting the condition of rental units.
Administrative Law Judge Emily Daneker said in her 252-page decision Thursday that violations by Westminster Management and the company JK2 were “widespread and numerous,” the Baltimore Sun reports.
Kushner and his brother, Joshua, each held 50% interest in JK2. Westminster is the company’s successor.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, sued Westminster and 25 related companies in 2019, claiming they took advantage of financially vulnerable consumers in the Baltimore area.
The judge ruled tenants often were misled about apartment conditions and were not allowed to see their actual apartments until their move-in days.
Daneker found Westminster charged illegal fees thousands of times over the course of more than two years, such as wrongly charging more than $332,000 in agent fees.
“These circumstances do not support a finding that this was the result of isolated or inadvertent mistakes,” the judge wrote.
The judge also concluded that Frosh’s office did not establish that the companies illegally misrepresented their ability to provide maintenance services and were not violating consumer protection laws during the entire period alleged by the attorney general.
The Kushner Cos., which owns Westminster, characterized the judge’s decision as a victory for the company.
“Kushner respects the thoughtful depth of the Judge’s decision, which vindicates Westminster with respect to many of the Attorney General’s overreaching allegations,” Kushner Cos. general counsel Christopher W. Smith said in a statement.
Westminster has repeatedly alleged that Frosh’s case was politically motivated, but the judge said the evidence does not support that claim.
Frosh’s office declined to comment on the ruling, citing the ongoing litigation.
Both sides have 30 days to file responses to the judge’s ruling.
Most of the properties involved in the case are in Baltimore County, but some are in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.