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Tenants’ Case Against Kushner Companies Proceeds

Jared Kushner’s family real estate company was unable to get a class-action lawsuit brought by tenants dismissed in Maryland, according to a ProPublica report. A judge dismissed a fraction of the suit, allowing most of it to proceed.

Tenants alleged in a lawsuit filed in September that the division of the company that manages 15 large apartment complexes around Baltimore had improperly charged unwarranted or illegally large late fees for rent payments. It also alleged that the company listed court fees that weren’t approved by any court.

The suit also said that tenants who paid only what was correctly owed had rent payments improperly applied, leading to more fees, and threats of eviction unless bills were immediately paid. ProPublic and the New York Times Magazine broke the story of the Kushner Companies’ alleged strong-arm tactics in May 2017.

A lawyer for the tenants said thousands of people could be covered by the suit.

Earlier, the Kushner Companies and related firms attempted to shift the lawsuit’s venue from state to federal court to avoid a jury drawn from Baltimore residents. Such a move would require disclosure of the partners who owned the properties to prove none lived in Maryland. The firms argue that disclosure should be under seal to avoid the publicity, and a judge disagreed. The suit remains in state court.

Kushner, son-in-law to President Donald Trump and one of his key advisers, broke with traditional ethics policy by divesting and transferring ownership of only a small portion of his holdings in the family businesses. The New York Times reported last year that he retains most of his financial interests.