Disputes under the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act

A dispute as defined in the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act relates to the administration of a community scheme and is between individuals who have a material interest in the scheme and where one of the parties is the association, an owner or an occupier within the scheme.

There are different types of disputes that the CSOS deals with. These fall into the 7 different categories of the types of Orders that an Adjudicator which is appointed by the CSOS is able to make when dealing with applications for dispute resolutions. 

These 7 categories include:

  • Corrections of unreasonable contributions and other financial issues pertaining to the scheme.
  • Removal of pets and any behavioural issues.
  • Confirming that scheme governance provisions are invalid and any problem areas that relate to scheme governance.
  • Any disputes which relate to meetings and resolutions including the requirement that a meeting be held by a scheme.
  • Appointment of executive managing agents and other management services.
  • Repairs and maintenance and any other physical works that need to be carried out
  • General issues which includes the access to information. 

In the event that a dispute doesn’t fall into one of the abovementioned orders, the Chief Ombud of the CSOS is allowed to suggest a suitable Order for the Adjudicator to make in those circumstances.

The dispute process for the CSOS

We have listed the different steps which are taken in the dispute resolution process.

Step 1: New applications

The very early stages of the dispute resolution process involve receipt, registration and acknowledgement of a new application. 
 
The Application for Dispute Form needs to be filled in completely. This should detail all the necessary information relating to the dispute as clearly as possible so that it won’t be open to interpretation. 
 
The Application Dispute Form can be downloaded from here.
 
You can lodge your applications in person or via email.
 
If your applications are from Gauteng, North West and Limpopo then you can email them to [email protected]

If your applications are from Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga and Free State then you can email them to [email protected] 

If your applications are from Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape then you can email them to [email protected] 

Step 2: Assessment

The application will be assessed so as to determine its validity after registration has taken place.

The application may be rejected by the Community Scheme Ombud Service if:

  • The disputed issue is not within the jurisdiction of the CSOS. 
  • The internal dispute mechanism processes of a particular community scheme have not been fully utilised to resolve the matter in question. 
  • In the event that the applicant doesn’t act in accordance with the 14 day written request for more information regarding the matter.
  • If the matter can be better dealt with by another authority such as a court of law or tribunal.
  • In the event that the application for waiver of the adjudication fees is rejected.

Should the community scheme of the applicant have no internal dispute resolution mechanisms in place, then he or she are allowed to directly approach the CSOS. 

Step 3: Conciliation

When the validity of the application is established and it is possible for the dispute to be resolved, then the application will be considered for conciliation. 

This can be done so informally by means of a quick telephone call in which conciliation for the dispute is reached or otherwise, it will be done so formally by means of a conciliation hearing. The CSOS Conciliator will act as chairman for this hearing and will assist with coming resolving the dispute between the two parties. 

The conciliator will issue a Notice of Non-Resolution and Referral to Adjudication in the event that the matter doesn’t reach a conclusion. 

Step 4: Investigation and Adjudication

Before being presented at the adjudication hearing, disputes that are referred for this process are first subjected to a thorough investigation. 

During this investigation additional information and documentation may be requested if necessary. Also sworn statements and affidavits will be asked for. 

The photographic evidence relating to the case will be analysed and, inspections will be conducted in line with section 51 of the Community Scheme Ombud Service Act of 2011. 

The legislative prescripts and other relevant laws will be reviewed as well to assist further with the investigation. 

Once the investigation has been completed the dispute will be dealt with at the adjudication hearing. During this hearing all the evidence presented for the appointed Adjudicator will be considered, after which he or she will bring the matter to conclusion in the form of a determination. 

It is worth noting that the orders of the Adjudicator will be enforceable even in the Magistrate Court or High Court. Of course this is dependant on the gravity or nature of relief provided in the determination.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated - Property Attorneys Sandton

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