frequently asked questions
Q: What does the CSOS do?
A: The CSOS is the Ombud for all community schemes in South Africa. It provides a dispute resolution service, regulates and monitors the quality of all community scheme governance documentation, provides training and consumer awareness.
Q: What is a Community Scheme?
A: A Community Scheme is any scheme or arrangement where there is shared use of and responsibility for parts of land and buildings, including but not limited to a sectional titles’ development scheme, a share block company, a home or property owner’s association, a housing scheme for retired persons, and a housing co-operative.
Q: Where can one find a copy of a Practice Directive?
A: Practice Directives are published under the Publication section of the CSOS website.
Q: Are the CSOS decisions final or appealable?
A: In terms of section 57 of the Act an order made by a 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.
Q: Does the CSOS offer its Service throughout South Africa?
A: Yes, the CSOS service is available to all nine provinces. You can contact your nearest regional office for assistance.
Q: What is the turnaround time for disputes?
A: Depending on the severity of a case, the turnaround time can take up to 90 days from the date of application.
Q: Does one have to use the CSOS before seeking justice through the Court?
A: Whilst the registration of the community scheme is a statutory requirement, the CSOS dispute resolution service is an alternative to the Court system. Litigation is usually lengthy, very complex and very costly and thus not accessible to the average South African. As a general rule, an alternative dispute resolution service is designed to be fairly simple, less expensive and quicker. The CSOS resolves disputes through Conciliation and Adjudication at a fee of R50 and R100 respectively.
Q: Does the Ombud have jurisdiction over arrear levies?
A: Yes, the Ombud can make orders through Adjudication.
Q: Why do we have to register?
A: It is a statutory obligation in terms of section 59 and Regulation 18(8) of the CSOS Act & Regulation that All community schemes register with the CSOS.
Q: How do I register a community scheme?
A: Registration is done by completing and submitting the CS1 Form. Completed forms can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
or hand deliver to a CSOS office. The CS1 requires community schemes to detail their domicile, governance documents, the executive committee, managing agent, the financials and authorised representative.
Q: Is there a fee payable for registration?
A: There is no fee applicable for the registration of a community scheme.
Q: Who must sign the declaration on Form CS1?
A: 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: Form CS1 requires a copy of the title deed – which title deed is this?
A: The deed issued by the Deeds Office.
Q: Form CS1 requires a copy of the Certificate of Establishment, in instances where this document does not exist, what can schemes do?
A: Community schemes can apply to the Deeds Registry for a copy of the Certificate of Establishment.
Q: Will there be any penalties for not registering?
A: Yes, in terms of Section 34(1) of the CSOS Act which is explained in the CSOS’s Penalties and Offences Practice Directive.
PAYMENT OF LEVIES
Q: When must a scheme start paying the CSOS Levy?
A: The payment of the CSOS Levy commenced in January 2017. All community schemes that existed as at January 2017 must pay the Levy from that date, regardless of when they registered with the CSOS. Community schemes that came into existence after January 2017, must register with the CSOS within 90 days of coming into existence, at which point the Levy will apply.
Q: How often must the levies be paid to CSOS?
Q: What are the levy payments banking details?
A: Account Name: Community Schemes Ombud Service
Branch Code: 200607
The CSOS registration number must be used as a reference for all levy payments
Q: How do I make a payment from ABSA?
A: Select the public recipient option
Type “Community Scheme Ombud Services”
Enter your registration number without the slashes
Q: What supporting document is required after paying the levy?
A: A detailed levy schedule, showing the amounts collected and how much of that is surrendered to the CSOS. A levy calculator is available on the CSOS website.
Q: Is the levy applicable to exclusive use contributions and special levies?
A: No. The CSOS levy applies to normal levies only.
Q: What is the cutoff date for the payment of levies?
A: The cut-off date is the 7th of the month following the end of a quarter.
Q: What happens with late payments/defaulting members who do not pay the CSOS levies?
A: Interest on levies will be charged on a monthly basis and at the prescribed rate set by the National Credit Act.
Q: Why does the CSOS statement of receipts only show negative amounts (credit amounts)?
A: The CSOS has not yet started billing community schemes, as it is in the process of allocating all the payments received since March 2017. Once the backlog has been cleared, the quarterly billing will commence. However, community schemes must ensure that they pay the correct amounts due to the CSOS using the levy calculator that is available on the CSOS website.
WAIVERS AND EXEMPTIONS OF CSOS LEVY
Q: Can I apply for an exemption to the CSOS Levy?
A: An application for waiver or discount, using Form CS3, can be submitted to the CSOS by email to email@example.com. 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?
A: If 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.
AGM (Annual General Meeting) and Annual Financial Statements FAQs
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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Each scheme must have the same fidelity fund insurance unless it is clearly stated in the umbrella that it covers that.
Q: Who must audit the financial statement?
A: An independent Auditor must audit the financial statements.
Q: How must an annual return be submitted?
A: The annual return form (CS 2) must be completed, a copy of the annual financial statements, minutes of the AGM and the resolutions; as well as the levy schedule must be attached to the annual return.
Q: When must the annual return be submitted?
A: The annual return must be submitted within four months from the date of the end of the financial year.
STSM Act FAQs
- STSM Act FAQs
- Who may be on the Board of Trustees?
A: Anybody can be a trustee unless they are employed as the managing agent or by the Body Corporate.
- Only 1 person owns all the units in the Scheme, is a Body Corporate formed and must it be registered with the CSOS?
A: When any other person other than the developer becomes an owner, a Body Corporate is established for that Scheme and must be registered with the CSOS.
Q: Who appoints the Managing Agent?
A: The Board of Trustees through the powers entrusted in it by its Body Corporate.
Q: Does a chairman have more powers than the rest of the Board of Trustees?
A: No, ONLY if the board of trustees, including the vote of the chairperson are tied, the chairperson has a casting vote, UNLESS there are only 2 trustees.
Q: What is the Managing Agents responsibility towards owners?
A: A Service Level Agreement is signed between the Agent and the client (Community Scheme) which sets out the duties and responsibilities of the managing agent. There is no specific Legislation which deals with the specific duties and responsibilities of an Agent rather the Act advises about the Enforcement of Rules, collection of contributions etc. which is usually ceded to the Agent by the Community Scheme.
Q: Why am I not allowed to voice my opinion at meetings?
A: Keeping in mind that at an Annual Meeting there is a required list of items which needs to be discussed on the agenda and owners or their representatives are welcome to engage in the topic which is up for discussions, the problem is that some owners wants their topics to be discussed and the Annual Meeting is generally not the platform to discuss this, as individual discussions are normally not in the interest of other members of the Scheme. The same can be set for Special Meetings. Rather set up a suitable date and time whereby you can discuss your personnal concern with the specific Agent or Trustee.
Q: Can I lodge my application with the CSOS if summons has been issued?
A: Section 42 of the CSOS states that an Ombud may reject an application if legal action has been instituted. Normally when a potential applicant approaches the CSOS, we advise that we call the board of trustees to enquire whether they will withdraw legal proceedings and hand the matter over to the CSOS, if they refuse, then the CSOS cannot take on the matter. If default judgment has been granted, the CSOS cannot assist in any event.
Q: I cannot afford my levy?
A: Each member of a Body Corporate MUST pay their levies. It must be noted that members of the Body Corporate approve the budget at the AGM, where after a resolution will be signed by the Board of Trustees and advise each member of his or her contributions to be paid.
How can we help you?
Contact the nearest CSOS customer service center or submit enquiry online.