Answer
CSOS is statutory body that was established in terms of the Community Scheme Ombud Service Act 9 of 2011 to regulate the real estate/property sector. Its main role is to develop dispute resolution mechanism to deal with sectional title and to other related community schemes complaints, promote good governance amongst schemes as well to register and collect levies from registered schemes. CSOS is also required to conduct education and awareness campaigns to inform the sector and consumers of their rights and responsibilities

Notes / Relation to the Act
Section 2,3 & 59 of the Act
Answer
The regulatory framework for the real estate/ property sector has been largely fragmented and there has not been a body to deal with complaints and disputes that arise in the sector as well as oversee the overall compliance and governance of community schemes. Prior to the establishment of CSOS, the only legal avenue that was available for consumers to address their complaints was through the courts and had to bear high litigation costs. As a result, government through the Department of Human Settlements identified the need to establish an independent regulator in the form of CSOS to provide a dispute resolution service that is less formal, less costly and less time consuming than the courts. The establishment of CSOS, also addresses the regulatory gap in terms of ensuring promotion of good governance and education of consumers in the sector Before approaching CSOS, you must first lodge a formal written complaint with the body corporate of sectional title or community scheme concerned and exhaust their internal mechanism. If the complaint remains unresolved and you are still not satisfied, you can then approach our office for assistance. You can either visit our office , email, fax, post , lodge complaint on the via our website. All complaints must be in the Complaint Form which will be available on our website. However, please note that we are not as yet able to accept complaint as yet as we are awaiting for the President to promulgate the Act.

Notes / Relation to the Act
Section 2, 3 &4 of the Act
Answer
Absolutely, education and training is one of functions of CSOS as provided in section 4 of the Act

Notes / Relation to the Act
s4
Answer
In terms of section 57 of the Act an order made by the adjudicator is final and binding. Affected persons can only appeal on the question of law and all appeals are to be lodged in the High Court

Notes / Relation to the Act
Section57
Answer
Yes, the Act requires the establishment of provincial ombuds. However, due to the cost factor our office will start with the big metros first Gauteng, Cape Town and KZN. But we will be able to accept and deal with all complaints regardless of your geographical location.

Notes / Relation to the Act
Section 21
Answer
ADR refers to methods such as conciliation, mediation and arbitration which are often used as means to resolve disputes. It is known as the preferred alternative to the Court system because litigation is usually lengthy, very complex and very costly and thus not accessible to the average South African. As a general rule ADR is expected to fairly simple, less expensive and quicker.

Notes / Relation to the Act
Section 21
Q: Does the new Act apply to scheduled AGM’s whose notices were distributed prior to publication of the regulations on 07 October 2016?
The new Act will apply. In such instances, the notice for the AGM will have to be re-issued in terms of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, 2011 (Act 8 of 2011).

Q: Who must audit the financial statement?
An independent Auditor must audit the financial statements.

Q: What happens in instances where there are less than 4 members in a sectional title – if less than 4 members all must be trustees. What if an owner is unwilling to stand?
There is no need for election or appointment, they become trustees by application of the law.

Q: If an owner is in arrears with levy payments, can he/she vote?
An owner can still vote provided there is no court order against the owner of the property.

Q: In the case where managing agents have existing fidelity cover, do the schemes need to have their own or separate cover?
Each scheme must have the same fidelity fund insurance unless it is clearly stated in the umbrella that it covers that.

Q: Section 36 of the Act refers to practice directives to be made by the Chief Ombud, when will these be published and where can one get a copy of said directives?
Practice directives will be published as and when required and determined by the Chief Ombud.

Q: What is the registration process?
In terms of section 18(3) of the regulations on the Community Schemes Ombud Service, all community schemes are required to file a registration with the CSOS. The registration form requires the community scheme to detail their domicile, governance documents, the executive committee, managing agent, the financials and authorized representative. Registration can only be filed using the CS1 Form.

Q: Where do you get the registration Form CS1?
The CS1 form can be accessed from the CSOS website www.csos.org.za All scheme governance documentation is referenced under “Community Schemes Governance Forms”. Community Schemes can download the Form, fill in the details, attach the required Annexures and email to registration@csos.org.za or hand deliver at of any of the CSOS offices.

Q: Can we register online?
Currently the CSOS does not have an online registration process. In future, we envision a system of online registrations in order to improve operational efficiency.

Q: Will there be a fee payable to register a community scheme?
There is no fee applicable for the registration of a community scheme.

Q: The form CS1 requires the details of the Managing Agent to be attached – is that the Certificate of Incorporation; or the EAAB Fidelity Certificate or what document is this?
The Certificate of Incorporation is required.

Q: Who must sign the declaration on form CS1?
The person authorised to sign on behalf of the scheme must sign the declaration. This could be a managing agent, chairperson of the Trustee or Chairperson of the Board of Directors.

Q: On the registration form CS1 in Section 8 – you ask for a copy of the title deed – which title deed is this?
The deed issued by the Deeds Office.

Q: One of the documents required in the CS1 form is Certificate of Establishment, in instances where this document does not exist, what can schemes do?
Community schemes can apply to the Deeds Registry for a copy of the Certificate of Establishment.

Q: Is the CSOS going to supply invoices for the payment of levies?
Yes. The CSOS will issue invoices to the community schemes and not the home owner.

Q: How much is payable?
2% on all amounts exceeding R500.00 of the monthly levy. This means that the first R500 of the monthly levy is exempt from CSOS fees. The CSOS fee has been calculated in such a way that the fee will never exceed R40.00

Q: How often must payment be made?
The CSOS fee is levied monthly and will be collected from community schemes on a quarterly basis.

Q: Will CSOS fees be applicable to exclusive use contributions and special levies?
The CSOS fee will only apply to normal levies.

Q: How will schemes within schemes be charged? For example, body corporates within a home owners’ association?
The CSOS levies are capped at R40. Schemes within schemes will have to tabulate all applicable levy fees, apply the 2% CSOS charge less R500.00. If this amount is less than R40, this is what is applicable.

Q: What happens with late payments/defaulting members who do not pay the CSOS levies?
Interest on levies will be charged at the prescribed rate by the National Credit Act on a monthly basis.

Q: Does the Ombud have jurisdiction over arrear levies?
Yes, the Ombud can make orders through adjudication.

Q: How will waived levies be assessed and communicated?
An application for waiver or discount, CS3, can be submitted to the CSOS by email on waiver@csos.org.za. To assess the applicant, the CSOS will administer a means test and the results of which will be communicated to both the applicant and the community scheme.

Q: Is the levy waiver permanent or applicable for a set period?
In the event that there is a change in the financial position of the applicant or if the information submitted to the CSOS is found to be incorrect, the application will be reviewed and the waiver may be withdrawn.

Q: Certain schemes have Conduct Rules that provide for fines being levied against members in certain instances. Would this supersede the Act insofar as the recovery thereof on the levy statement?
The Act sill allows the schemes to recover the levy and any other amount. It can be included on the levy statement if the member consent and if not by a court order by a judge, adjudicator or arbitrator.