Community Schemes Ombud Service unveiled

Friday, November 11, 2016

Pretoria - The Department of Human Settlements has unveiled a Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS), which will assure quality, preserve and provide public access to all sectional titles and other scheme governance documentation.

The main purpose of CSOS is to regulate, monitor and control the quality of all sectional titles schemes governance documentation and other scheme governance documentation, as may be determined by the Minister of Human Settlements by notice in the Government Gazette.

Speaking at the launch of the ombud service in Johannesburg on Thursday, Human Settlements Acting Director General Neville Chainee said the department’s role is to provide the executive authority oversight on the implementation of the Arbitration Act, regulations, the board and its funding.

“We must ensure consistency with other ombud offices.  The act and regulations have been promulgated and now office is in full force.  The Minister and the department will make it work and be rest assured of our support,” said Acting Director - General Chainee.

CEO and Chief Ombudsman of the CSOS, Themba Mthethwa, said that prior to the establishment of the CSOS, regulation of community schemes was fragmented.

“There was a lack of an effective dispute resolution mechanism, high arbitration and litigation costs to settle even minor disputes under Arbitration Act. Power imbalance and financial muscle between an ordinary property owners and a body corporate or managing agent served as a deterrent.

“CSOS will achieve this, by developing and providing a cost effective, value for money alternative dispute resolution service for all community schemes,” said Mthethwa.

The establishment of the CSOS means that community schemes, which include body corporates, retirement villages and home owners associations will need to make a number of critical decisions and adjustments in terms of the fees and levy collection. 

The registration of schemes will need to take place within 30 days. The community schemes will also have to pay a levy from January 2017, comprising 2% of the normal levy value and it is capped at R40.

Chairperson of the National Association of Managing Agents (NAMA), Koos Croukamp and Association of Residential Communities (ARC) Chairperson, Jeff Gilmore welcomed the establishment of CSOS.

“It is good news that community scheme leaders are no longer going to deal with disputes in their communities. We also encourage community scheme leaders to try deal with disputes before approaching the Ombud,” said Gilmore.

Community schemes will have to fill in governance documentation within 90 days from the date of publication of the Act. – SAnews.gov.za

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