If you live in a Residential Estate, Sectional Title or any kind of Community Living Scheme, you’ll appreciate how important it is to have good neighbours. There are times, however, when even good neighbours disagree with each other. When disputes arise, who is responsible for restoring peace and order?

Resolving Issues Internally

In the case of a dispute between two neighbours, the first step is to try and resolve the matter yourself in a neighbourly fashion. Thereafter, the next step would be to complete and file a formal complaint. Download our Complex Complaints form from our website, fill it in and submit it to our offices. Your Portfolio Management team will bring the matter to the attention of your Body Corporate or HOA and they will assess the situation.

If the dispute affects multiple owners (More than two complaints from different owners), it becomes a community issue. In this case, the first step remains to try and resolve the dispute among members of the community. If that does not work, the committee members can refer the matter to the Community Scheme Ombud Service (CSOS).

If the dispute only affects you and your neighbour, and you are unable to resolve the matter internally, in a neighbourly fashion, one still has the option of escalating the matter further through the likes of Community Scheme Ombud Service (CSOS), the courts and/or the South African Police Force (SAPS).

Disputes and the Community Scheme Ombud Service

According to the Community Scheme Ombud Service’s (CSOS) most recent annual report, “the 2017/18 financial period saw an increase in the number of disputes referred to the CSOS for conciliation”. That could be because referring a dispute to the CSOS is both cost-effective and convenient.

How to Lodge a Dispute with the CSOS

Your first step (post internal measures outlined above) is to lodge a formal application with the CSOS and this involves completing the Dispute Resolution Form which is available for download from the CSOS website. The form can be emailed to relevant jurisdiction’s email address or delivered in-person to your nearest CSOS office.

Then, it is up to the CSOS to assess the claim and decide if they will proceed with it. An application may be rejected if:

  • it falls outside of the CSOS’s express jurisdiction
  • applicants have failed to exhaust all their options in resolving the dispute internally
  • applicants fail to provide the CSOS with the additional information they have requested within a reasonable time or at least 14 days
  • the matter would be better resolved by another court or tribunal
  • if the applicants request to waiver the adjudication fees have been denied

If your application is accepted, the CSOS will set a date for Conciliation and notify all the relevant parties within 14 working days.

Conciliation and Adjudication

Everyone affected by the dispute application is brought together and given an opportunity to state their case. The CSOS appoint a conciliator and it is their job to oversee the proceeding and assist in reaching a settlement or mutual agreement between the parties involved.

If an agreement still has not been reached, the conciliator will issue Notice of Non-Resolution and the matter will be referred to Adjudication. This is the final step in the process and includes an investigation. At this stage, the CSOS may request additional documentation such as photographs, sworn affidavits and site inspections if necessary.

After Adjudication, the CSOS appointed adjudicator will consider all the evidence and make an order which is binding on all parties. Any order handed down by the CSOS can be enforced by the High Court or Magistrates Court.


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