They nickel and dime down-on-their-luck tenants for small fees and hound former tenants for unpaid rent. They drag their heels on fixing plumbing or cleaning up black mold. They post late-rent notices in public areas where neighbors can see them. One woman calls them "slumlords." And they—various real-estate management outfits—are owned by Kushner Companies. Yes, that Kushner. "And I thought he was the good one," one tenant says of Jared Kushner, White House adviser and President Trump's son-in-law. ProPublica reports the company, of which Kushner was CEO until getting his new White House gig, has a history of making life exceedingly difficult for tenants at the thousands of apartments and townhomes it owns in multiple states.
Kushner Companies pursued a single mother of three for nearly $5,000 for years because she broke her lease—after she got signed permission from the on-site manager to do so. The company eventually garnished her wages and emptied her bank account. It went after another tenant for more than $5,000 even while she sat in hospice dying of pancreatic cancer. That tenant had moved out more than two years before Kushner Companies bought the housing complex where she had lived. “I guess you can do it ... but I don’t think it’s cool," says an attorney specializing in tenant-landlord litigation. That's to say nothing of the months that pass while necessary repairs—like mice infestations or broken refrigerators—go ignored. Read the full story here for Kushner Companies' response. (Read more Longform stories.)