CSOS Information

Here you will find a number of help texts designed to give you information on the Community Schemes Ombud Service. When you want more information on the types of order a CSOS adjudicator can give to address your issues, go to “Start the Guide” link below.

What is the Community Schemes Ombud Service?

The Community Schemes Ombud Service (the “CSOS”) is an alternative dispute resolution body designed to resolve administrative disputes in all types of community schemes, including sectional title schemes and home owners associations.

The CSOS provides services which are designed to deal quickly and relatively inexpensively with serious issues that arise in the process of administration of a community scheme.

The CSOS interacts with the public via its regional Ombud offices, currently in Centurion, Cape Town and Durban.



Berkley Office Park,
8 Bauhinia Street, Highveld Techno Park,
Centurion, 0169

080 000 0653
010 593 0533

Western Cape:

8th Floor Constitution House
124 Adderley Street
Cape Town

087 805 0226
021 001 2569


7th Floor Aquasky Towers
275 Anton Lembede Street

087 805 0236
031 001 4215

What are “Community Schemes”?

The Community Scheme Ombud Service Act, 9 of 2011 (“the CSOS Act”) defines a “community scheme” or “scheme” to mean:

“any scheme or arrangement in terms of which 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, however constituted, established to administer a property development,
  • a housing scheme for retired persons, and
  • a housing co-operative as contemplated in the South African Co-operatives Act, 14 of 2005″

The five types of community scheme mentioned in the definition are examples of community schemes, but these are not the only possible types of community schemes. Any scheme or arrangement that provides for shared use of and responsibility for parts of land and buildings is a community scheme.

Purposes of the CSOS Act

The Community Schemes Ombud Service Act, 9 of 2011 (“the CSOS Act”) provides for:

  • the establishment of the Community Schemes Ombud Service, with detail of its mandate, management and functions; and
  • a dispute resolution mechanism for administrative disputes that arise in community schemes and the collection of outstanding contributions.

CSOS employees must act impartially in assisting to resolve community scheme administration disputes.

The CSOS is intended to provide an impartial and transparent service to resolve administrative disputes in community scheme.

Functions of the CSOS

CSOS’ primary function is to provide an inexpensive and efficient system that resolves administrative disputes in community schemes.

There legislation specifies seven categories of administrative disputes:

  • Financial
  • Behavioural
  • Scheme Governance
  • Meetings and Resolutions
  • Management Services
  • Physical works
  • General and Other

For more details of the types of order under each of these headings, click the “Start the Guide” button below.

The CSOS has other functions, all to support its dispute resolution function. Details of these functions are set out in the “General information” tab above.

What special terms are used by the CSOS?

The CSOS legislation and staff use the following special terms.


Any entity responsible for the administration of a community scheme.

This term covers a sectional title body corporate, a share block company, a non-profit company or common law association that operates a home owners association, any form of retirement scheme and a housing co-operative, as well as any other body or arrangement that manages any other form of community scheme. For the purposes of the CSOS, they are all associations.

“common area”

Any part of land or building in a community scheme that is intended for common use by occupiers.

In the context of sectional title, this is the “common property” and in a housing co-operative it is the “personal space”. In an HOA and share block company, it is the property that is owned by the association and  not subject to any use agreement.

“community scheme”

In the second tab, “Community Schemes“, we look at the wide definition of this term.


An administrative dispute in a community scheme is an issue between persons who have a material interest in that scheme, of which one of the parties is the association, occupier or owner, acting individually or jointly.

Examples of people who have material interests in a scheme include executive committee members (often referred to as ‘trustees’ or ‘directors’), owners, occupiers, bondholders and managing agents.

“executive committee”

The executive body of a community scheme are the people who meet regularly and take the day-to-day management decisions, including but not limited to the trustees of a sectional title body corporate, the board of directors of a share block company and the management association of any housing scheme for retired persons.

“governance documentation”

See “scheme governance documentation” below.

“managing agent”

A person who provides management services to a community scheme for any form of reward, including any person who is employed to render such services.


A person who has the legal right to occupy a private area.


A person who has a legal right to use a private area, including the owner of a sectional title unit, the holder of shares in a share block company and the holder of an occupation right in a housing scheme for retired persons (a retirement development).

In the CSOS context this term has a wider meaning than it has in the common law. An “owner” in the CSOS context does not necessarily need to have registered title – for example, the term includes the holder of  life rights in a retirement development in terms of a contract.

“scheme executive”

A person who is a trustee, director, or another person who takes executive decisions in the operation of a community scheme.

“scheme governance documentation”

Any rules, regulations, articles, constitution, terms, conditions or other provisions that control the administration or occupation of private areas and common areas in a community scheme.

“scheme management services”

Any financial, secretarial, administrative or other service relating to the administration of a community scheme.

What kind of disputes can the CSOS deal with?

The CSOS can deal with disputes in regard to the administration of a community scheme if:

  • the dispute is between persons all of whom have a material interest in the scheme, and
  • one of the parties to the dispute is the association, a scheme owner or an occupier.

Examples of persons who have material interests in community schemes include executive committee members, owners, occupiers, bondholders and managing agents.

How does the CSOS deal with disputes?

Once the CSOS has received an application, it can arrange for conciliation and adjudication processes. Normally the CSOS will attempt conciliation before starting an adjudication.


In a conciliation a person employed by the CSOS attempts to get the parties to settle their disputes. Ideally the process of engaging with the parties will win their confidence promote constructive dialogue with the conciliator and, and finally with each other. The ideal outcome of a conciliation is a settlement agreement that records what each of them have agreed to do or not to do to resolve their disputes.


In this process an adjudicator employed by CSOS hears evidence and arguments from the parties and settles the dispute in terms of a written order that includes findings and directions. The parties are bound to the order whether they agree with it or not.

How can applications be submitted to the CSOS?

The CSOS Act provides for the making of applications in both physical and electronic form. Regulation 19 (1) under that Act provides:

“An application referred to in section 38(1) of the Act must be made by submission of an application by physical delivery or electronically, in accordance with directive by the chief ombud published in the Gazette.”

Late applications

In terms of section 41 of the CSOS Act:

(1) An application for an order declaring any decision of an association or an executive committee to be void, may not be made later than 60 days after such a decision has been taken.

(2) An ombud may, on good cause shown, condone the late submission of an application contemplated in subsection (1).

In calculating the number of days that has passed since the decision, you must exclude the date on which the decision was made. If the 60 day period expires on a Sunday or public holiday, the period is extended so that it expires on the next working day.

An example of the type of “good cause” required to allow an ombud to condone the late submission of an application could, for example, include a situation where:

  • the trustees of a sectional title scheme failed to distribute the minutes of the meeting as required under the prescribed management rules and the applicant therefore did not get the notice he or she was supposed to get that the resolution had been taken, or
  • some person took steps that prevented the applicant coming to know of the decision that he or she now seeks to overturn.

Did you know: A CSOS adjudicator’s order can be made an order of the high or magistrates court, so that the creditor or successful party can proceed to enforce their proven claim using the machinery of the court system.

General information

Other than provide dispute resolution, the CSOS exists to:

  • provide training for CSOS conciliators, adjudicators and other employees;
  • regulate, monitor and control the quality of all sectional titles scheme governance documentation; and
  • take custody of, preserve and provide public access electronically or by other means to sectional title scheme governance documentation.

The Minister of Human Settlements has the power to extend the CSOS’ mandate in regard to regulation, custody, preservation and quality control of the governance documentation other than sectional title schemes, but has not done so as at February 2021.

In performing its functions the CSOS must:

  • promote good governance of community schemes;
  • provide education, information, documentation and such services as may be required to raise awareness to owners, occupiers, executive committees and other persons or entities who have rights and obligations in community schemes, as regards those rights and obligations;
  • monitor community scheme governance;

and the CSOS has the power to deal with any other matters to give effect to the objectives of the CSOS Act.

The CSOS must develop and developer or identify training courses for  owners, occupiers, executive committees and other persons who have rights and obligations in community schemes.

Right of appeal

In terms of section 57 of the CSOS Act:

(1) An applicant, the association or any affected person who is dissatisfied by an adjudicator’s order, may appeal to the High Court, but only on a question of law.

(2) An appeal against an order must be lodged within 30 days after the date of delivery of the order of the adjudicator.

(3) A person who appeals against an order, may also apply to the High Court to stay the operation of the order appealed against to secure the effectiveness of the appeal.

Legal representation

In terms of section 52 of the CSOS Act:

The applicant and any other relevant person are not entitled to legal representation during the adjudication process unless—

(a) the adjudicator and all other parties consent;

(b) or the adjudicator, after considering—

(i) the nature of the questions of law raised by the dispute;

(ii) the relative complexity and importance of the dispute; and

(iii) the comparative ability of the parties to represent themselves in the adjudication, concludes that it would be unreasonable to expect the party to deal with the adjudication without legal representation.

Where to next?

Not the information you’re looking for? Or have you got the information you needed, and now need to know more about the orders that the CSOS can grant?

Use the buttons below to navigate back to the home page, or to begin our CSOS Application guide.