According to CNN Money, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh may be heading up an investigation into Kushner Companies for potential abusive debt collection practices and poor conditions at several of its Maryland area properties.
Media reports surfaced earlier in the year that exposed alleged coercive tactics and inferior maintenance procedures in multi-family properties run by Westminster Management, an affiliate company of Kushner Companies. They run over 15 properties in various parts of Maryland, including Baltimore, Middle River, and Essex.
Allegations include “poor upkeep” which includes mold and rodent infestations, as well as appliance failures. Their debt practices have been noted to be among the most unsavory and aggressive, even seeking civil arrests for those who owe money.
Kushner Companies might sound familiar, as Jared Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law. He is a senior White House adviser, and stepped down as CEO of his family’s business in January as well as recusing himself from certain policy issues since becoming an advisor.
Some Basic Rights as a Tenant
Some basic elements you should be familiar with as a renter in Maryland are:
- Maximum security deposit is equal to two months’ rent
- Landlords have 45 days to return the security deposit, or landlord forfeits right to withhold; tenant can sue for 3x deposit plus reasonable attorney’s fees
- Maximum late fees of 5% of rent due
- Under certain circumstances, tenants can perform their own repairs and deduct the costs from the rent
- In cases of domestic violence, tenants can terminate a lease, but landlords do have a right to ask for proof of domestic violence status
- Landlord may not raise rent during lease term, unless lease specifically allows
- May raise rent during a periodic rental agreement (like month to month) with one month’s notice
- Landlord may use part or all of security deposit for unpaid rent, damages to the rental property that extend beyond normal wear and tear, and/or damage due a breach in the lease
- Landlords cannot discriminate based on factors like race, color, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, and more
- Landlords are required to keep properties habitable and free from serious defect that pose threat to the health, safety, or lives of tenants
- A landlord may not retaliate against a tenant who exercises their rights
- If a landlord plans to terminate the tenancy, they must give proper notice (typically three months for yearly leases, one month for month-to-month rentals, and one week for weekly rentals
Preserving Your Rights as a Tenant
As a tenant, you have certain rights. If a landlord violates those rights, or tries to evict you unfairly, you may have cause of action for a lawsuit. While some cases fall under the threshold of small claims for getting deposits refunded (under $5,000 in value), there are actions that may warrant a full lawsuit and representation from a knowledgeable Maryland personal injury attorney.
If you are experiencing an issue with your tenancy and/or a dispute over habitability of your residence, you should contact our knowledgeable team at the Law Office of Robert R. Castro today to schedule a consultation. Call our office at 301-804-2312.