The Community Schemes Ombud Service (“CSOS”) has been in operation since October 2016, and has since then been accepting disputes regarding sectional title schemes. The public however has not had the opportunity to gain its confidence in the CSOC completely, and I believe this will come with time. The Community Schemes Ombud Services Act No. 9 of 2011 (the “Act”) has been enacted in 2011, however, the service could not be implemented until the final regulations, governing its mandate and functions, were published in the Government Gazette, which was done in October 2016. The hope and expectation is that the CSOS will better regulate and resolve disputes within community schemes and sectional title schemes in particular, and further, hold owners, tenants, trustees and body corporates more accountable toward their statutory and common-law obligations in terms of schemes’ internal governance rules. This service, which is established in terms of the Act and its regulations. focuses on the dispute resolution and controlling of sectional title governance, while there is another piece of legislation, namely the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act No. 8 of 2011, implemented which will solely governs and regulates the management aspects of sectional title schemes.
The CSOS operates in a highly complex environment that has never been regulated before and seeks to bring a regime of administrative justice and an alternative dispute resolution service to all South Africans living in community schemes. It goes without saying that this goal can only be achieved if it is operated in strict accordance with the existing legislative framework within the property sector as a whole.
The CSOS has a wide jurisdiction in respect of issues arising from within community schemes or sectional title schemes. The process to be followed is created in such a way as to make it possible for lay people to apply to the CSOS if there is a dispute relating to any sectional title related issues.