Martin Bester, the Managing Director of Intersect Sectional Title Services, who sits on the board of the Residential and Sectional Title Committee of SAPOA and is a committee member of the Sectional Title Regulations Board, explains in further detail his interpretation of the Community Schemes Ombud Services Act, 2011.
“Until such time as the Ombud Service is staffed one can only, really, hypothesise at this stage the full application of this Act” says Bester.
Though the Community Schemes Ombud Services Act does, quote “provide for its mandate and functions; and to provide for a dispute resolution mechanism in community schemes; and to provide for matters connected therewith” how, exactly, this service is to be applied, operated, funded as well as its effectiveness remains to be seen.
Sections 38 and 39 of the Act provide for the mechanism of application and the relief orders that the service will adjudicate upon. I have summarised these to the following categories: financial; behavioural; governance; meetings; management; works [repairs and maintenance] and general.
It is envisaged that the Ombud service will investigate and adjudicate claims and complaints against managing agents or other employees of community schemes, such as sectional title body corporate’s, home owners associations, shareblock schemes etc., and should have jurisdiction to rule on certain aspects thereof.
It is also hoped that this service will provide both the trustees and the residents within community schemes the platform to resolve disputes in an orderly, fair and equitable manner.
The way I see the application process unfolding is for any person to lodge a dispute, in the prescribed manner, with Ombud service seeking relief of one, or more, of the orders provided for in the Act. Upon receipt thereof the Ombud will consider the content and merit of the application and may either reject, request further particulars, or investigate the application. If an adjudicator decides that the application does warrant that making an order is appropriate then notice must be issued to the affected parties of such decision and the adjudication process, as provided for in the Act, followed.