Banking

TONY HETHERINGTON :Is my cemetery investment dead?

Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

Mystery: Regent Memorial’s Kamran Saleem runs a used car dealer

T.S. writes: Have you any update on Farnham Park Cemetery? 

I have heard nothing from them, and the company responsible, Regent Memorial Limited, does not respond to phone calls or emails. 

Have we lost our investment? I visited the site in Farnham recently and it is basically an empty field. 

Tony Hetherington replies: When I looked into this and wrote about it four years ago, all the warning signs were there. 

Salesmen were marketing cemetery plots as investments for around £1,850 apiece, with predictions that within two or three years their value would have rocketed by as much as 40 per cent because of a national shortage of burial land. 

In fact, Regent Memorial’s website still includes a misleading picture showing headstones that belong to an adjacent genuine church cemetery. 

One of Regent Memorial’s directors, Kamran Saleem, confidently told me in 2017 of his experience in the industry, explaining that his father, Mohammad Saleem Akhtar, was chairman of the Birmingham mosque that runs the biggest Muslim funeral service in the city – and possibly the whole country. 

What has changed since? Well, despite the sign directing traffic from the main road in Farnham, not a single burial has taken place at the cemetery. 

It is a ghost town, untended and overgrown, and the shipping container that was used as an onsite sales office stands rusting. 

Meanwhile, Kamran Saleem runs Motorserv-UK, a used car dealership and service centre in Solihull. 

In 2017, I reported my suspicion that Saleem’s real intention might be to build houses on at least part of the land. 

Sure enough, a slice of land was transferred to a Channel Islands company called Rheno Property Holdings. 

However, the local authority rejected a planning application for housing, submitted by a connected company, Plot (Farnham) LLP. 

And this has not been the only land deal in the area. Last year, land previously regarded by the council as part of the projected cemetery changed hands for more than £2million. 

The new owner, confusingly called Farnham Cemetery Limited, is controlled by the Ismaili Trust, an Islamic charity based in London. It told me it is not connected to Regent Memorial, adding: ‘Planning already exists on our site for burial and we are looking to pursue that.’ 

Your own agreement with Regent Memorial obliges that company to continue marketing plots and to keep the cemetery clean and tidy. 

Yet no marketing is being done and the site looks abandoned. Lots of investors have contacted me, complaining they feel cheated. 

It certainly appears that Regent Memorial is in breach of contract. Its bosses do not even acknowledge burial applications that I understand some investors have made. Saleem is not the only owner or director of Regent Memorial Limited. 

Behind him stands Henry Anderson, a Channel Islands businessman. Both were repeatedly invited to comment. Neither did so. I suggest you and other plot owners get together and sue Regent Memorial. 

Saleem and Anderson were happy to take your money. Let’s see how they respond when a court hears how they benefited from false sales pitches and then left you in the lurch.

Help to Buy? I need help sorting this loan chaos…

TONY HETHERINGTON :Is my cemetery investment dead?

Ms H.M. writes: Four years ago, I used the Government’s Help to Buy scheme to purchase my flat with a loan. 

Since then, I have saved hard to repay the loan before steep interest charges start after five years. 

In January, I paid £395 for a surveyor’s report, instructed a solicitor, and sent all paperwork and fees to Target HCA, the company administering the loan. 

Target forgot to deal with this, then refused to deal with my solicitor, and now says I have run out of time and need to pay for new reports to start again. 

Tony Hetherington replies: This has been a chapter of errors. When you spoke to Target in February, staff admitted they had simply forgotten to deal with your loan redemption request. 

The company said it would extend the redemption process by one month to make up for this, but then it sent all the forms, along with lots of personal information, to a solicitor who acted for you some years ago, and not to the solicitor you had told Target was acting for you now. 

And when I started looking into this for you, I ran into a fresh bit of confusion, with a document saying terms and condition were set by Target Servicing Limited, company number 08896386. 

When I checked, I found this number belongs to a different company, Elderbridge Limited, which is connected to Target but legally is completely separate. 

I asked Target to comment, and it admitted it had got things wrong. The company has now told me: ‘We have extended the redemption period for Ms M until September 2021, so she will not need to pay for a new survey or additional legal fees.’

I had to shield, but NatWest won’t pay

J.K. writes: I paid £933 to book a villa in Spain, but then received a message from the NHS telling me to shield because I have a serious underlying health condition. I cancelled the booking, but was told the deposit was not refundable. 

I have a NatWest Platinum account which includes travel insurance, and I pay an additional monthly fee to include cover for my underlying condition. 

However, NatWest rejected a claim for my £933, apparently because I cancelled more than 28 days before departure. 

Tony Hetherington replies: The message from the NHS said: ‘You have been identified as someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable due to an underlying disease or health condition that may put you at serious risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus.’ 

At first, you were told to stay at home at all times. This was later relaxed slightly to allow you to go outdoors once a day, but a trip to Spain was out of the question. 

At first, NatWest said it rejected your claim because its policy only allows for cancellations within 28 days of departure. 

It offered to reconsider if you provided a letter from your doctor, confirming that you had been told to shield for longer than this. You provided a letter confirming you were told to shield for 12 weeks, but NatWest still turned you down. 

I asked the bank to think again, and staff confirmed that they had considered your claim under the normal 28-day rule, but should have looked at it under a separate part of the policy that allows for medical cancellations. Your claim has now been met in full.

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected] Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Most Related Links :
todayuknews Governmental News Finance News

Source link

Back to top button