CSOS has only registered less than half of all sectional schemes
The Community Schemes Ombudsman Service (CSOS) currently has 36,000 sectional title schemes on its books, of the 76,000 schemes registered with the deeds office.
“A major compliance drive is underway to register the remaining schemes with CSOS,” said Wanda Lubelwana, CSOS manager for marketing and communications.
There is no word yet on what action, if any, CSOS envisages for the thousands of pre-existing schemes that were required in terms of the CSOS Act to have registered with the service by 7 November 2016. New community schemes have 30 days from the date on which they are incorporated to formally register with CSOS.
The act stipulates that a person convicted of non-compliance could face a fine or imprisonment of up to five years, or both. The term of imprisonment is doubled for a second conviction in addition to a fine, or both. Interest of 2% a month is due against non-payment of CSOS levies.
Monthly CSOS levies are paid by the owner of a property and are tied to the amount of the levy paid to the body corporate. At present, the highest CSOS monthly levy tops out at R40 for an owner who pays a body corporate levy of R2,500 and above. Owners in entry-level schemes pay zero as their body corporate levies are considered too low (at R500 per month or less) to attract an additional CSOS levy.
CSOS top management has become embroiled in controversy over the past few months following the deposit of R80m in CSOS funds into VBS Bank, currently under curatorship with debts of over R1bn. Unauthorised expenditure is also at issue and CSOS attracted an adverse audit for its most recent financial records. In early September the acting chief ombud and the chief financial officer were suspended on full pay and their positions taken by two internal appointments. Ms Ndivhuo Rabuli is the acting Chief Ombud Mr Nathi Dube the acting Chief Financial Officer. A forensic investigation is underway.
Lubelwana assured HomeTimes that the furore at CSOS has not impacted on the functioning of the service in its Johannesburg or regional offices.
However, there is mounting criticism of the quality of service being provided by CSOS to property owners and residents in community schemes attempting to use the low-cost reconciliation and arbitration services provided by the organisation.
Detractors cite increasing numbers of arbitrator rulings being challenged on appeal in the High Court on points of law, poorly trained staff unable to cope with the demanding influx of cases, poor communications between ombud staff and complainants and respondents, and low-quality of general administration.
Members of the public publishing their unsolicited comments on customer service site Hello Peter regarding their experiences with CSOS range from “Useless CSOS” to “CSOS doesn’t care about you”, “Paying for nothing” and “I might lose my house because of CSOS”. CSOS did not register a response to any of the complaints.
Words: Blake Wilkins