What is the CSOS and What does it do? | Legal Articles

 

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What is the CSOS and What does it do?

The Community Scheme Ombud Service (CSOS) is a creature of statute being the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act 9 of 2011 (the Act), which came into force in October 2016.

The CSOS registers and superintends over governance of community schemes which are defined in the Act as Share Block Companies, Homeowners Associations, Housing Schemes for Retired Persons, Housing Cooperatives and Sectional Titles Development Schemes.

CSOS definition and conduct rules

Community Schemes must register with the CSOS

Under Form CS1 and CS2, community schemes must register with the CSOS and submit Annual Returns and financial documents, as part of its monitoring function. A community schemes’ governance documents must also be submitted when the registration is done. The CSOS is funded by scheme levies and fees collected when parties bring disputes for conciliation and adjudication.

Section 39 of the Act – Types of Disputes

Amongst its core responsibilities is the adjudication of disputes in community schemes. Section 39 of the Act provides the types of disputes which the CSOS may preside and adjudicate on.

The disputes which fall under the jurisdiction of the CSOS must fall under the following categories:

  • Financial Issues,
  • Scheme Governance Issues,
  • Management Services,
  • Meetings,
  • Works pertaining to private areas and commons areas,
  • Behavioural Issues,
  • General and Other issues.

The latter category is somewhat an attempt to create a “catch all” mechanism where a dispute may fall within the purview of the Ombud’s jurisdiction but is not specifically mentioned under the categories.

Section 38 (1) of the Act - locus standi

Section 38 (1) of the Act provides for locus standi with regards to parties who may bring disputes to the Ombud. It provides that ‘any’ party may make application for adjudication of a dispute if that person is a party to the dispute or is materially affected by the dispute.

Therefore, a party must have sufficient and material interest to the dispute to satisfy this requirement. This was further entrenched in the case of Durdoc Centre Body Corporate v Singh 2019 (6) SA 45 (KZP) where it was upheld that the party who brought the dispute to the CSOS (manager of the complainant) had brought the dispute in his own name but that he has no sufficient real interest in the dispute as the non-supply of electricity did not affect him directly or indirectly in any way.

As a way of its processes, a dispute is first attempted to be resolved by Conciliation and where the matter remains unresolved then Adjudication will be conducted and before a Ruling is made.

An appeal is possible under section 57 of the Act but only limited to dispute of law (where the appellant is of the view that the Adjudicator erred in the application of relevant law to the dispute).

Besides adjudication of disputes in community schemes the CSOS also attends to the following:

  1. Promotes good governance of community schemes and supervises such governance;
  2. Trains its officials e.g Adjudicators & Conciliators, with regards to its processes;
  3. Manages public access to information in schemes governance documents;
  4. Attends to awareness and education programmes for owners and community scheme associations in terms of responsibilities and rights;
  5. Vets Management and Conduct Rules of community schemes where needs be.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Attorneys Cape Town & Johannesburg

At Van Deventer & Van Deventer Attorneys we assist with disputes which fall under the jurisdiction of the CSOS as well as various other Property law matters. Our approach is comprehensive and committed.

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