Sectional title corner – Can the board restrict access to the ombud?
Thanks for good reporting on the community schemes ombud. I live in an estate and the board is trying to dodge the ombud by changing the rules that disputes will be referred to an advocate with at least 15 years’ experience. Is this legal? I expect that many such attempts will be made. – Nico
Hi Nico, the ombud is not the only option you have; it is just an alternative dispute resolution option (cheaper and quicker, in their words). Our opinion is that the courts will start asking the question, “Did you try to resolve your dispute via the ombud?” before they look at cases.
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Ed comment: The very restriction on consulting the ombud is worrisome. But as Karien says, the courts will likely not hear cases that have not first been referred to the ombudsman. Two of the main reasons for setting up an ombud’s office is to provide an affordable and binding dispute resolution channel as well as to free up the courts. As an owner who will from January 2017 start paying the CSOS levy, there is no way your board can prohibit access to the ombud – this in itself should be referred to the ombud. Any and all rules also need to be approved by the CSOS so I don’t see this standing up to their scrutiny.
Who is Karien Coetzee?
Karien Coetzee is the national property management consultant at property management company, Trafalgar. She holds qualifications in sectional title schemes management and homeowners association management.