Answer to a question from a reader

The managing body corporate of my community scheme houses are failing to attend to complaints. What can I do?

The short answer

The Community Schemes Ombud Service is there to regulate the way parties within community schemes behave.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

What can I do about the managing body corporate or agent of my community scheme houses who are failing to attend to complaints about security, leaking gutters and geysers and no lights in passages? They have also raised the levies and charge by the minute if you phone them to complain. On their website, they say they attend to complaints, but they do not.

The long answer

There is a government body called the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS), which is there to regulate the way parties within community schemes behave. In terms of the CSOS Act of 2011, all community schemes are required to register with the CSOS. Those registration details must include the executive committee, the managing agent, the financials and the authorised representative. So your community scheme should already be registered with the CSOS.

The CSOS provides an Alternative Dispute Resolution service, which means that you don’t have to go to court to resolve disputes. This is the quickest and cheapest way of settling disputes using the methods of conciliation and adjudication. It is a free service.

Van de Venters Law, in an article about the CSOS, says that the disputes that can be taken up by the CSOS are 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.

That would seem to cover all the issues you have raised in your email.

These are the contact details of the CSOS:

These are the steps you take to lodge a dispute:

  1. Complete the Application for Dispute Resolution (which you can download from the website)

  2. The CSOS receives, registers and acknowledges the new application.

  3. The application is assessed to determine validity.

  4. If valid, the matter is referred to conciliation.

  5. Conciliation Fee – Free
    Informal Type – quick telephone conciliation
    Formal Type – conciliation hearing
    Conciliations are chaired by a CSOS Conciliator who is there to assist the parties in finding a resolution. If the matter is not resolved, the conciliator will issue a Notice of Non-Resolution and will refer the matter to Adjudication.

  6. Adjudication Fee – Free
    Matters that are referred for adjudication will be subject to a thorough investigation prior to presentation at the adjudication hearing. At the adjudication hearing, the Adjudicator will consider all the evidence presented and will hand down a determination that is binding on all parties to the dispute.

For urgent complaints about disputes lodged, please contact the Complaints Manager at the email below:

The Adjudicator orders are enforceable in the Magistrate Court or High Court depending on the amount or kind of relief granted by the adjudicator’s determination.

If either party is not satisfied with the outcome, they can appeal it in the courts.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on July 9, 2023, 11:17 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.