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Of Mice and Mold: Baltimore Tenant Complaints Show Jared Kushner's Not Exactly a Model Landlord

Kushner Cos.’ properties in Baltimore County, with elegant names like Whispering Woods and Harbor Point Estates, have seen dozens of combined complaints.

by Morgan Baskin
Jul 29 2019, 5:34pm

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President Trump bashed Baltimore this weekend as a “filthy place” and a “rat and rodent infested mess” — but he might want to talk to his son-in-law about the Kushner family’s properties in the area.

Public property records show that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has frequently allowed Kushner Cos.' Baltimore-area apartment buildings for low-income tenants to fall into disrepair, with complaints including rat, mice, and cockroach infestations; mold; leaky ceilings; and faulty plumbing.

Through ownership of the New York-based real estate company Kushner Companies, Jared owns some 9,000 rental units across 17 properties in Maryland, at least 13 of which are in Baltimore County.

Trump condemned the living conditions in Baltimore after questioning why “so much money” is sent to the 7th congressional district, represented by Elijah Cummings, a Democrat who's a vocal Trump critic. Trump has since expanded his attacks to include Cummings himself, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

READ: The president started his week accusing black leaders of playing the race card

The Baltimore County government has long been aware of the poor condition of many of the Kushner Cos.' buildings. In November 2017, then-Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kemenetz announced that the properties logged some 200 violations of housing code, which all accrued just that year, he said.

The county threatened to withhold federal housing subsidies from the properties, and issued $3,500 in fines against some of them for the poor conditions.

“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,” Kemenetz said at the time.

Kushner Cos. began operations in Maryland in 2013, the Baltimore Sun reported. Kushner was the chief executive of the company from 2008 to 2017, then stepped down from the role that year to become one of Trump’s senior aides. He still maintains an ownership stake in the company, according to the Washington Post.

But public property code violation complaints in Baltimore County show that Kushner Cos.’ properties, which have elegant names like Whispering Woods and Harbor Point Estates, have dozens of combined complaints.

Many of these were filed after the company supposedly fixed the property issues, and they range from rat infestations to moldy windows and faulty electrical wiring.

Some of the alleged issues persisted for years before they were addressed, records show.

Tenants of Cove Village in Essex, Maryland, routinely complain about the property, both formally through the Baltimore County government and in reviews online. Of the building, one tenant –– at the time eight months pregnant, she said –– wrote in a Google review of the property that the water stopped working in the building.

“I am leaving one star only because I can’t leave ZERO,” the woman, Joyce Nyamba, wrote. She added that the roof leaks in the building, too. Five different complaints filed to the county government between 2009 and 2017 allege that the complex is riddled with trash and rats.

“Tons of tons of mice, painted over mold, trash seen every day, and my celing [sic] leaked in bathroom and kitchen my whole lease term,” another tenant, Nate Russell, wrote in a Google review.

One-bedroom apartments there rent for about $920 per month, according to the complex’s website.

At the Charlesmont Apartment Homes in Dundalk, one tenant complained this year that “THERE ARE LARGE HOLES IN MANY OF THE DUMPSTERS. RATS ARE A HUGE PROBLEM THROUGHOUT,” according to a copy of the complaint available on the Baltimore County website. The issue dates to at least 2014, when someone submitted a complaint to the county that the Charlesmont apartment’s dumpsters “are riddled with rat holes and rats.”

“They are neglectfully managing and causing the rat issue to be much worse,” the tenant wrote.

Another property, the Commons at White Marsh Apartments in Middle River, is infested with cockroaches, one tenant alleged in a complaint filed to the county last year. Another complaint alleges that there is a “hole in the roof,” and mold in the building.

More troubling is the complaint filed in 2014, that breaker panels in the apartment complex weren’t up to code. “Majority needed to be replaced. Approx. 800+ units.” (The county marked that complaint as “in compliance,” indicating that the wiring has since been fixed.)

Though the property has an average review of 3.2 stars from 217 people on Google, the property’s website pulled the 25 best for its website, where it says it has a 4.5-star average review.

A 2017 investigation of Kushner Cos.’ properties by the New York Times and ProPublica, including of Cove Village, show that some tenants reported maggots crawling up through their carpeting and raw sewage flowing from the kitchen sink.

Because Baltimore County has no public housing, the Times reported in 2017, the Kushner Cos.’ properties in the area “have become the de facto substitute.” Three of the company’s complexes received a combined $6 million since 2015 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to help low-income residents pay rent, the Baltimore Sun reported in February.

In response to VICE News’ request for comment about these conditions, and of the president’s remarks about the city, a spokesperson for Kushner Cos. emailed the following statement: “Kushner Companies is proud to own thousands of apartments in the Baltimore area. Substantial amounts are constantly reinvested in the properties to maintain a high quality residential experience for our tenants.”

The Kushner Cos.’ properties rake in at least $30 million annually in profit, the Baltimore Sun also reported.

Cover: White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)