Management company owned by Jared Kushner files to evict hundreds of families as moratoriums expire

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/11/05/kushner-evictions-pandemic-westminster-management/

Westminster Management, an apartment company owned in part by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, has submitted hundreds of eviction filings in court against tenants with past due rent during the pandemic, according to interviews with more than a dozen tenants and a review of hundreds of the company’s filings.

A state eviction moratorium currently bars Maryland courts from removing tenants from their homes, and a federal moratorium offers renters additional protection. But like other landlords around the country, Westminster has been sending letters to tenants threatening legal fees and then filing eviction notices in court ― a first legal step toward removing tenants. Those notices are now piling up in local courthouses as part of a national backlog of tens of thousands of cases that experts warn could lead to a surge in displaced renters across the country as eviction bans expire and courts resume processing cases.

Many of the Westminster tenants facing eviction live on low or middle incomes in modest apartments in the Baltimore area, according to tenants. Some of them told The Washington Post they fell behind on rent after losing jobs or wages due to the pandemic.

Those facing eviction proceedings once courts begin hearing cases again include a nurse who struggled financially during the pandemic, health-care administrators and a single mother who is currently unemployed.

Yolanda Coates, who lives at a Westminster-owned property called Bonnie Ridge in Pikesville, Md., said she has kept her day job at a local child-care facility so far but has occasionally fallen behind on rent. As recently as Sept. 25, Westminster charged her court fees in an ongoing eviction case that started last year, according to an email reviewed by The Post.

“If you don’t pay before the fifth of the month, they still send out an eviction notice,” Coates said.

Tashika Booker, a resident of another Westminster property, Owings Run, says she used to work for an online education company. She lost her job in May and now receives a little more than $800 per month from unemployment insurance, but it’s not enough to cover her $1,300 rent.

“My bills are getting paid slowly but surely. It might not be on time, but I’m really in a better situation than a lot of other people,” Booker said.

She said she is looking for other ways to generate income, but Oct. 8 she received an email from the property manager saying, “we have filed on you with the District court of MD, so court fees will be added to your account.”

For the moment, Maryland courts cannot order people removed from their homes. The state’s moratorium was renewed Oct. 29, preventing cases from proceeding. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ban through the end of this year allows tenants in many cases to file paperwork to halt the process.

Westminster, a unit of the Kushner Cos., issued a statement from Kushner Cos. general counsel Christopher W. Smith saying the company was fully compliant with state and federal eviction bans, including ones approved by President Trump through the Cares Act and the CDC.

“Westminster has comprehensively abided by all federal, state, and local orders regarding residential tenancies during the Covid-19 pandemic … and will faithfully continue to do so,” the statement said.

When he joined his father-in-law, President Trump, in the White House, Kushner resigned from his family’s business but maintained ownership in Westminster, which paid him $1.65 million in 2019, according to his government disclosure form.

Westminster, which is co-owned by Kushner and other investors, manages more than 20,000 apartments, according to its website. It is far from the only company moving to evict tenants despite the pandemic; housing experts have been warning for months that as Americans’ stimulus benefits run dry and eviction moratoriums expire, backlogs in eviction cases may be leading to a surge in renters being forced from their homes, particularly at the end of the year when the CDC moratorium ends.

Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which tracks evictions in 24 cities, found that landlords there have filed for 92,619 evictions during the pandemic. Election Lab’s Alieza Durana said that the lack of federal data made comparing time frames difficult but that whoever is elected president will face “increasing numbers of people at risk of eviction, particularly among marginalized communities.”

Data from past years suggests that evictions have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities. From 2012 to 2016, Black renters had evictions filed against them by landlords at nearly twice the rate of White renters, according to Eviction Lab data.

Some of Westminster’s tenants, including those facing eviction, are Black, and their plight was highlighted Oct. 26 by public backlash to comments Kushner made on Fox News. Kushner said on the air that Trump wants to help Black people but that they have to “want to be successful” for his policies to work.

“President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about, but he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful,” Kushner said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Kushner, issuing a statement saying it was “disgusting to see internet trolls taking Senior Advisor Jared Kushner out of context as they try to distract from President Trump’s undeniable record of accomplishment for the black community.”

Another research and advocacy group, the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, found that corporate landlords have filed more than 10,000 eviction notices in five states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas — since September.

“There is definitely a question about what happens as time goes on,” said Jim Baker, the group’s executive director. “Clearly we are seeing some increases. It doesn’t add up to a surge yet. But with big companies making these filings and with moratoriums expiring, we are wondering if we will see more.”

9 thoughts on “Management company owned by Jared Kushner files to evict hundreds of families as moratoriums expire

  1. Dennis Cole November 5, 2020 / 12:44

    Now, I may not be as successful a businessman as Hair Furor, or a real estate jenius like Jared, but somehow owning empty apts that are not producing a positive cash flow does not seem like such a wise idea. Empty apts deteriorate at a much faster rate than ones which are occupied, and I would think that having at least a partial cash flow would be preferable, since some of those people were at least trying to pay part of their rent.

    Maybe it has something to do with “paper losses,” for tax purposes, but evicting the deadbeats will not magically produce new, well-heeled, rent-payers. Not in today’s Economy, or tomorrow’s either. I think one of Sleepy Joe’s biggest problems is going to be dealing with a major Recession that could all too likely descend into a Great Depression, and trying to get programs pushed past Moscow Mitch and his Minions, in order to promulgate a recovery through deficit spending, will be next to impossible.

    The Rethuglicons are all to willing to let millions of citizens die, just to “stick it” to the Libs, and as revenge for tRump losing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Scottie November 5, 2020 / 16:32

      Hello Dennis. All too true, hard to argue with your wisdom. I am wondering if a lot of these apartments were rent controlled, and evicting the tenants made it so they could change that status? I just do not see any gain for the landlords.
      But I sure do see a lot of pain and hassle for the people evicted. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dennis Cole November 5, 2020 / 17:01

        Scottie – many of them were subsidized by HUD and Section 8, which do not usually pay “full market rate” on rentals, and as far as I know, those payments are still being made, but the majority of the tenants were low-income Black people who didn’t qualify for rental assistance. I think what’s happening here is Jared got approved for refinancing last year thru Freddie & Fanny, which means the taxpayers are on the hook if he defaults.
        So, once those loans are paid-off by us, he still retains ownership, and can keep it or sell it – not that he’d find many buyers in today’s RE market.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Dennis Cole November 6, 2020 / 00:26

        Scottie – A point I was trying to get across is that it’s a “Renter’s Market” right now, in most metropolitan areas, meaning there’s no longer a serious shortage of rental housing available, and as for the Commercial/Warehouse sector? Whoo-wee, fuhgeddaboudit. Only, the Media’s not broadcasting it, understandably, but there are soon going to be a large number of Defaults & Foreclosures, due to landlords not getting rents, and not being able to keep up with their payments. And the courts are going to be clogged with all these Evictions and Foreclosures and Repos, and the Banks are going to be left with impossible amounts of losses, (thru no fault of their own, ha-ha,) and will once again flounder and begin to drown, unless and until the Gov’t steps in, and bails them out.

        Round 2 of the Rape, Robbing, & Pillaging of the once-proud USA, only this time it’s DIMOCRAP puppets, financed by and marching to orders from Wall St. This time feels a whole lot different to me, than in 2016, like we were SO convinced we had it, we had the numbers, we were gonna pull this off……….I wonder how many people who voted in person used an electronic voting machine? And did any of them get a paper receipt, a copy of how they voted?

        I really have little to no idea how the process works in other parts of the country, but here in bucolic No. Cal, voting by mail, or by person involves blacking-out the circle next to your candidate, using, of course, a black-ink pen, and that gets tabulated via a scanner, but now I’m hearing about “Sharpie incidents” and “leakage,” and I’m fully convinced half the population is being drugged, and succumbing to the Calling of the Cult, because that just makes things way too crazy, along with news of folks harassing and haranguing vote-counters.

        I have never in my whole entire life had as bad an acid trip as this one, which seems to be never-ending.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Scottie November 6, 2020 / 08:03

          Hello Dennis. It amazes me how the right can take a small thing, twist it, and on just a single claim of it being an act against them ( they love victimhood ) make it an entire scandal. The reason for using sharpies was explained to them. I seen the single video where a known right wing provocateur made the claim only tRump people were given shapies, she was sure. Yet it was a lie. The sharpies were used because the ink dried faster and did not smudge which can cause a misread of the ballot and gunk the reading machines. But these Qanon lovers and the always sure the world is against them right wing can not let go of a conspiracy no matter what. it relieves them of responsibility. Hugs

          Like

  2. ali redford November 5, 2020 / 20:24

    Shame on them. I’m a person who had to give up a job due to the Trump admin.’s bad performance in controlling the coronavirus, and their lack of leadership regarding public safety. While we will not go without eating because I had to leave a job I loved because Trumpeters will not wear masks and stay away from other people, the people facing eviction are suffering for the same reason. The Trumps (and Kushner) are just awful, awful human beings, and I’m just going to leave it at that, right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Scottie November 6, 2020 / 07:21

      Hello Chatty Introvert. I understand. Ron lost a really good paying job that he had only one year left until retirement, due to the government’s handling of Covid and relief. We are not going hungry but our bills are slowly eating into our savings. We keep hoping the Republicans would wake up and see we the people are hurting, but they are not going to. The Republicans do not care. Those poor people being evicted, losing it all, I have posted videos of them. This country has failed them. Totally. For a nation that claims to be #1, the wealthiest on earth, the best country ever, we failed to do what other countries did to help their people. People in Europe did not lose their homes, did not get evicted, they got their wages while staying home. How? Well their governments paid companies to pay the wages of the workers. They paid the people out of work a living amount. Here in the wealthiest country on earth our government paid large corporations money to buy back their own stock and increase their own worth while laying people off and downsizing the workers. Big difference in who the government works for. In the US the Republicans believe the government should only serve the wealthy, but never work for or help the lower incomes. Lower classes / lower incomes should always be dependant on the upper class employers goodwill for anything they can manage to get. I have started to really dislike our government and Republicans. Hugs

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Dennis Cole November 5, 2020 / 23:58

    Ali – I’m so sorry to hear that. Like I’ve said elsewhere, it’s going to start cascading, and proving the Domino Effect once again. The Rethuglicons fucked everything up so badly that once again we need some adult-level leaders to clean up this mess. (Against all odds, amirite?) I hope you can file, and start drawing on your Umpy, or that your skills and guts and ambition help you land somewhere where your creativity combined with level-headedness is appreciated.

    Sometimes I think that while we MAY have Free Will, we also have overwhelming capabilities of performing unbelievable depravities and atrocities, and we have such self-destructive proclivities as to be the main cause of our own extinction, which I expect to arrive around (or before) 2100. But I ain’t gonna be around then.

    I am not only surprised but delighted to have lasted this long, since I AM past my “Best By/Expiration Date,” and for the next few months we’re going to continue to have to live in that old Chinese proverb, about living in “interesting times,” so I WILL get to see what finally shakes out of the tree, as grandpa used to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nan November 6, 2020 / 12:29

      HA! Love this … since I AM past my “Best By/Expiration Date,” . Perhaps because I can identify … 😁

      Liked by 2 people

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