August 18, 2017

Van Hollen, Maryland Congress Members Investigate Reports of Kushner Companies Engaging in Abusive Rental Practices

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin joined Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Anthony G. Brown, in sending a letter to Kushner Companies LLC requesting documents relating to multiple reports that the company and its subsidiaries may be violating the requirements of a federally funded housing program operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

"If these reports are accurate, they raise very serious and troubling concerns about whether Kushner Companies and its subsidiaries are complying with HUD's housing quality standards to ensure the safety and health of their own tenants," the Members wrote.

A new report this week in the Baltimore Sun found that Kushner Companies is "the most aggressive in Maryland in using a controversial debt-collection tactic: getting judges to order the arrest of people who owe his company money" and that it has sought the civil arrest of 105 former tenants.

In addition, the New York Times and ProPublica recently documented how tenants who live in properties owned and managed by Kushner Companies entities have experienced "poor upkeep," including appliance failures, mold, mildew, and rodent infestations. They also detailed how tenants who "lack checking accounts" are not allowed to pay with money orders, but instead must use a card linked to their account that requires residents to pay a $3.50 transaction fee.

Kushner Companies, through its subsidiaries, owns several multi-family rental properties in Maryland in which tenants use HUD Housing Choice vouchers. According to HUD, the goal of the Housing Choice program is to provide "decent, safe, and sanitary" housing to very low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

"Property owners that accept Housing Choice vouchers are required to ensure that their dwelling units meet federal housing quality standards," the Members wrote. "HUD regulations specify that each 'dwelling unit and its equipment must be in sanitary condition' and 'must be free of vermin and rodent infestation.' "

The Members asked Kushner Companies to produce, by September 8, 2017, a wide range of documents and information related to properties owned or managed by the company and its subsidiaries.

Click here to read today's letter.