An apartment company partially owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, has filed hundreds of eviction filings against tenants with past due rents.
The evictions will force tenants out of their homes at a time when coronavirus cases are skyrocketing across the country.
A federal moratorium on evictions is protecting tenants at the moment, but that has not stopped landlords such as the one partially owned by Mr Kushner, Westminster Management, from sending threatening letters to tenants who have not been able to pay.
Many Americans have been left without significant income after losing their jobs due to closures related to the coronavirus.
There were 22 million job losses during the early stages of the pandemic in the US. Pew research shows that less than half of those who lost jobs have found meaningful employment.
Money is tight even for Americans who have not lost their jobs; Pew found that one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills due to coronavirus-related hardship. A third have had to rely on savings or their retirement account to get by, and one-in-six have had to borrow money from friends or family, or have used a food bank.
Many of the tenants facing eviction from Westminster Management apartments live in low or middle income apartments, according to The Washington Post.
Wesminster Management controls more than 20,000 apartments, and has drawn criticism from Maryland state officials in the past over its management practices. In 2019, Maryland’s attorney general sued the company, alleging it collected illegitimate fees for applications and evictions, and that it illegally claimed tenants’ security deposits.
Representatives of the Kushner Companies called the lawsuit “politically motivated” and are fighting the charges.
Westminster is not the only management company threatening evictions against tenants during the pandemic; according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab – which tracks evictions in 24 cities – landlords have filed for 92,619 evictions since the pandemic began.
The nationwide eviction moratorium is set to expire on 31 Dec.