You may or may not be aware of the fact that The Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) has been established in terms of the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act, 2011 (Act 9 of 2011) to regulate the conduct of parties within community schemes and to ensure their good governance.
This means that Homeowners Associations need to comply with the regulations of the CSOS. There are a number of requirements, including the levies which will have to be paid to the scheme on a quarterly basis. These fees will have to be collected from individual homeowners monthly, and then paid over to the CSOS quarterly. The fee will be R40.00 per month Please note that this is a Statutory requirement so homeowners have no choice in the matter.
The CSOS was established in terms of the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act, 2011 (Act 9 of 2011) to regulate the conduct of parties within community schemes and to ensure their good governance. In terms of Section 38 of the CSOS Act, any person in a community scheme may make an application to the CSOS if such a person is a party to or it is materially affected by a dispute. It will then resolve or adjudicate any complaint lodged with it regarding community schemes, including townhouses, flats, complexes, golfing estates, retirement homes, homeowners’ association and other forms of communal living that have a body corporate or management agent governing the common areas of the property. Think of the ombud service as being to community living what the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration is to labour.
The CSOS provides an Alternative Dispute Resolution service. This entails the resolution of disputes outside of the courts as the most cost effective and speedy way. A home owner may lodge a dispute with the ombud service. Applications for Dispute Resolution may be lodged in person (walk-in) or online on this website: www.csos.org.za, by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or fax on (010) 590 6154. It will then be assessed to see whether there is merit to the complaint. If so, the next step is conciliation, when an attempt will be made to resolve the matter with the affected parties. If the matter cannot be resolved, the ombud will investigate it further. After that comes adjudication, when the ombud will issue an order that is legally enforceable through the courts. The Application for Dispute Resolution Form must be completed in full and all relevant information pertaining to the application must be recorded accurately to eliminate any ambiguity. Once it has been registered and the application fee paid, the application will be assessed to determine validity.
Grounds for which an application may be rejected by the CSOS:
- The matter falls outside of the jurisdiction of the CSOS;
- Failure to exhaust the internal disputes mechanism processes that exist within the particular community scheme;
- Failure by the application to comply with the 14-day written request for further information;
- Another competent authority such as a court of law and/or tribunal can best deal with the matter;
- Application for waiver of adjudication fees is denied;
- Where there is no internal dispute resolution mechanism in a community scheme, applicants are entitled to approach the CSOS directly.
Once it has been established that an application is valid and that the dispute is capable of being amicably resolved, the application will be set down for conciliation.