Disputes in Community Schemes

By Bennie van Dyk – Operations Manager

When living in close proximity to each other, it only follows that conflict will arise at some point in time. How you deal with such conflict will determine the character of your community scheme and eventually the value of your investment.

When should a dispute be referred to the governing body of the scheme?

While you may reside in a communal scheme that is managed by the governing body elected by all members, individual owners still have responsibilities when resolving a breach of the rules. The governing body would only proceed with legislated mechanisms of recourse on behalf of the community scheme when the complainant is unable to resolve the matter and the breach is regarded as being against the body corporate/association, and not against an individual owner.

Quite often, personal matters can be resolved by the individual parties concerned without the involvement of the body corporate/association. When a community scheme becomes involved, it might incur liabilities/damages on behalf of all owners where legislated mechanisms of recourse are followed.

Thus, one can divide disputes into personal transgressions and scheme transgressions. Personal transgressions affect you personally, such as noise nuisance, parking space disputes, etc. Scheme transgressions affect the whole community scheme, such as badly maintained property, unapproved improvements, etc.

In the case of a personal transgression, approach the person yourself and attempt to resolve the matter amicably. Where required, get the SAPS to address the compliant and obtain a case number. Keep proper record of time and occurrences for future reference. If the breach continues, forward a formal complaint to the governing body of the scheme.

With a scheme transgression, forward the formal complaint to the governing body specifying the dates, times, and type of breach. The same process will apply when referring a dispute to CSOS. The more information and evidence you provide, the quicker the matter can receive focused attention.

The governing body will evaluate complaints received, and if not for their action, the complaint should be referred to CSOS by the complainant. When referring a dispute to CSOS, it is of utmost importance to complete the required form correctly.

  1. Make sure the correct party/parties are listed against which the dispute is declared, as you cannot make a finding against a party not listed, nor can you add a party later during the dispute process.
  2. Be clear on what the dispute relates to. This is important as it will indicate what rules and regulations are relevant when resolving the dispute.

CSOS has seven categories, i.e. financial issues, behavioural issues, governance issues, meetings, management services, work pertaining to private areas and common property and general issues.

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