Community Schemes Ombud Services

Contact Details

Physical Address: Berkley Office Park, 8 Bauhinia St, Highveld Techno Park, Centurion, 0169
Telephone: +27 (0)10 593 0533
Web: https://csos.org.za/

Industry

Ombudsman

Organisation Profile


Fostering Harmony and Governance: The Community Schemes Ombud Service

 In the intricate fabric of communal living, disagreements and confrontations are unavoidable. Community living comes with its unique set of challenges, often requiring effective dispute resolution mechanisms and governance structures. To address these challenges, the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) emerges as a crucial player, dedicated to establishing a cost-effective alternative dispute resolution and oversight service within community schemes.

A community scheme is defined as any scheme or arrangement where there is shared use of and responsibility for parts of land and buildings, including but not limited to:

a) Sectional titles development schemes;

b) Share block companies;

c) Home or property owners' associations (inclusive of non-profit companies and common law associations);

d) Housing schemes for retired persons; and

e) Housing co-operatives.

Established in terms of the Community Scheme Ombud Service Act, 2011 [Act 9 of 2011] to regulate the conduct of parties within community schemes and to ensure their good governance, the CSOS came into operation on the 7th of October 2016. The CSOS plays a multifaceted role in promoting good governance, fostering harmonious relations, conducting educational campaigns, enhancing community schemes' tenure, and implementing organisational measures to transform the sector.

Community Schemes Must Be Registered With the CSOS by Law

In terms of the CSOS Act, read with Regulation 18(2)(a)(v) of the CSOS Regulations, all community schemes must be registered with the CSOS within 30 days after the incorporation of the community scheme. CSOS Connect, our self-service digital platform was launched in November 2022. The system allows stakeholders to easily register their schemes online. Other services available on CSOS Connect include the following:

User Registration. The following users can register:

  • Attorney
  • Auto Registered
  • Board of Directors
  • Developer
  • Executive Management Agent
  • Managing Agent
  • Managing Association of Retired Persons
  • Occupier
  • Owner
  • Sectional Title Trustee
  • Self Managed.

Users are able to do the following on the system:

  • Registration of a Scheme
  • Link/Delink an Existing Scheme
  • Amendment of a Scheme
  • Amendment Particulars of a Scheme
  • Documents Upload
  • View/Download Registration Certificate
  • Deactivation of a Scheme
  • Search/View Scheme Details.

For Revenue, the user is able to:

  • Relay a Message to the Revenue Team
  • View/Query Levy Invoice
  • View Levy Payment Calculation
  • Upload Levy Schedule.

All users can a Log a Query against any scheme on CSOS Connect:

  • View Query Status
  • Submit Annual returns.

Establishing a World-Class Dispute Resolution Service

At the heart of the CSOS's mission is the establishment of a world-class dispute resolution service characterized by organizational excellence. Community schemes, such as sectional title schemes, homeowners' associations, and residential estates often encounter disputes arising from various issues such as governance, property maintenance, and interpersonal conflicts. The CSOS serves as a neutral mediator, offering a platform for parties to resolve disputes amicably.

The CSOS achieves this by employing experienced mediators and arbitrators, ensuring a fair and impartial process. By fostering an environment that encourages open communication and collaboration, the CSOS aims to not only resolve disputes but also build a foundation for sustainable community living.

Promoting Good Governance in Community Schemes

To ensure the stability and harmonious relations among the parties involved, the CSOS is committed to promoting good governance within community schemes. Recognising the vital role of effective governance in preventing conflicts, the CSOS develops and implements guidelines tailored to enhance transparency, accountability, and fairness.

These guidelines cover a spectrum of governance aspects, including financial management, the quality assurance of scheme governance documentation, and the approval of scheme rules. By providing community schemes with a roadmap for responsible governance, the CSOS contributes to the long-term viability and success of these communities.

Massive Educational Campaigns for Stakeholders

Acknowledging that knowledge is key to preventing conflicts, the CSOS undertakes extensive educational campaigns aimed at stakeholders within community schemes and the public at large. These campaigns serve a dual purpose: empowering community members with the information needed to navigate the complexities of communal living and raising awareness about the CSOS's services.

Through workshops, seminars, and informative materials, the CSOS educates residents, trustees, and property managers on their rights, responsibilities, and the mechanisms available for conflict resolution. This proactive approach not only prevents disputes but also ensures that when conflicts arise, they can be addressed more efficiently and constructively.

Enhancing Community Schemes' Tenure as an Alternative Option

The CSOS recognises the importance of community schemes as a viable alternative tenure option. By fostering an environment of stability, good governance, and effective dispute resolution, the CSOS aims to enhance the attractiveness of community living. This not only benefits existing residents but also encourages potential homeowners to consider community schemes as a desirable and sustainable housing option.

Through collaboration with industry stakeholders, the CSOS works to dispel misconceptions and highlight the advantages of community living. This includes emphasizing the sense of community, shared amenities, and the potential for cost-effective management that community schemes can offer.

Advocating for transformation in the community schemes sector

Transformation in the property industry is pivotal to driving economic growth and fostering social stability. A thriving property sector has a cascading effect on various other industries, creating jobs, stimulating construction and infrastructure development, and boosting overall economic productivity. By addressing historical imbalances and promoting a more inclusive property market, South Africa can harness the full economic potential of its real estate sector.

The CSOS as an entity of Government has a responsibility to transform the industry within which it operates. Accordingly, the appointment of Executive Managing Agents (EMA) from previously disadvantaged groups is one of many ways that the CSOS seeks to achieve the transformation of community schemes in South Africa.

The criteria used to appoint an EMA is the following:

  • be registered as a Managing Agent at the Estate Agents Affairs Board,
  • have the relevant NQF5 qualification, alternatively an exemption from the PPRA,
  • have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate,
  • one must have professional Indemnity cover
  • the ability to uphold the CSOS Code of Conduct for EMAs, and
  • being a holder of a BBB-EE Level 1 and 2 Certificate.

The Community Schemes Ombud Service stands as a beacon of conflict resolution and good governance within the realm of community living. Through its dedication to establishing a world-class dispute resolution service and promoting good governance, the CSOS contributes to the creation of thriving and harmonious communities. As the demand for alternative housing options continues to rise, the role of the CSOS becomes increasingly pivotal in shaping the landscape of community living for the better.


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