Five Minutes with Sayeed Haris, Executive Director of Property Services at Midland Heart.

8 Mins
Tom Neely

By Tom Neely

In our latest edition ‘Five minutes with…’ interview, Tom Neely spoke with Sayeed Haris, the newly appointed Executive Director of Property Services at Midland Heart As we partner with Sayeed on the recruitment of a new Director of Property Investment, we sat down with him to discuss Sayeed’s plans for his new role and the type of leader he is looking to bring into his senior team.

Can you talk to us in more detail about Midland Heart and its purpose?

We’re a large, fast-paced housing association that is based in Birmingham with homes across the Midlands. We own around 35,000 affordable homes across the region serving over 70,000 tenants. We have over 1,200 colleagues that deliver tenancy centric services ranging from repairs and major repairs and replacements, money advice to helping resolve ASB in our communities.

Our purpose is clear and simple: to provide quality affordable housing in the Midlands. This means regardless of what else may be going on in our tenants’ lives, they don’t need to worry about the quality of their homes that need to be warm, comfortable and secure.

Could you explain in more detail your strategic priorities for the coming year?

I want to end this year providing a service to our tenants that not just meets but exceeds their expectations. This will be done by focusing on the delivery of three key things:

  1. First-class, first-time repairs as standard. Every time a tenant receives a repair, they feel they have had a first-class experience.  We make sure our teams have accurate information, the right materials, and enough time to do a job we’re proud of.
  2. Investing in what matters most to tenants. Our planned maintenance programme goes beyond replacing components by ensuring we see the home and not the house. We are making strides in delivering energy efficiency measures, changes our tenants’ lives and making their homes more comfortable places for them and their family. We need to continue to treat this responsibility with the respect it deserves and ensure that we are making the most of this investment on behalf of tenants.
  3. Safety as a golden thread. Our safety record in recent years has been robust and it must remain so. However, safety doesn’t stop at a gas, fire, water, or electricity check.  We need to have safety at the front of mind all the time and it is never someone else’s job, it is all of ours. 

Embedding these three improvements into our day-to-day work will help us take a major step forward to being the best property services team in the sector.

How will this role play a part in the key strategic priorities for the organisation?

As a housing provider coming into its centenary year, we have one of the largest proportion of pre-world war one homes of any housing association in the country.  Our next corporate plan 2025-2030 will focus on how we make these homes fit for the start of their next hundred years, housing families in the Midlands. This year our new Director of Property Investment will lead a pilot to understand how we can modernise these homes so they are more energy efficient and cheaper for our tenants to run, more comfortable for families to live in, and how we can do this with as little disruption to our tenants lives as possible. This is of course a major undertaking but also a hugely exciting opportunity, and has the tenant at the heart of our investment plans. 

There are over 4 million homes, like ours, that are over 100 years old currently being lived in across the country owned by Housing Associations, Local Authorities and owner occupiers.  Over the course of the next decade getting these homes energy efficient, and fit for the next century is going to become a national priority.  Our modernisation programme, which will lead by this role, will put us at the centre of finding an answer to this challenge.

You have recently been promoted to this role?

Yes, I was recently promoted to our Executive team from my role as Director of Commercial Finance. My colleagues Bal, our Executive Director of Corporate Resources, and David, Executive Director for Tenancy Services, were also promoted onto our Executive team from roles as Directors in Midland Heart. Our Chief Executive Glenn was also an internal appointment. We have a proud history of investing in our colleagues, and successfully promoting internally, and that makes Midland Heart a great place to build, and in many cases, define your career.

Who are you looking for?

I’m looking for right person to really push the boundaries of asset investment, and to start thinking about how we craft our investment plans which benefit not only the condition of our homes, but also our tenants lives. This goes beyond the traditional asset investment delivery, starting with formulating and leading our exciting investment plans over the coming years. Midland Heart as an organisation has a number of positive investment choices, including our modernisation pilot this year, and how this translates into a sustainable longer term programme, but most importantly, thinking through how to make our investments in tenants’ homes more impactful.

They will do this as part of a high-performing leadership team, working alongside the Director of Repairs and Maintenance, and Director of Building Safety, and the broader Directorate. The team they will inherit are passionate about the work they do and they, like everyone at Midland Heart, know that this work is central to our future success and want to see it done to the highest standards. We are also the only Housing Association in the country to hold a G1/V1 rating awarded by our regulator and an A1 stable rating by Moody’s. These are a result of the pace at which we work, which surprises some who are used to the Housing sector, and from the standards we have collectively set.

Do you have any advice for candidates interested in applying for this role with Midland Heart?

Take your time to research Midland Heart properly, we are not your average Housing Association.  We want to be a high performing, well motivated team that is commercially minded alongside the delivery.  If you like a fast-paced environment and settle for nothing less than doing your best – it is a great place to work. Also, think about what the future of asset management could look like, with the number of changes in the external environment, it is clear we need to adapt in order to deliver a brilliant service to our tenants, and make the right investments for the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the new Director of Property Investment role at Midland Heart, please do contact Tom Neely or Luke Joy for more information.

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