Don’t get on with your neighbours in a complex? Here are your options

One of the biggest challenges of living in a shared space and in proximity with neighbours in a community scheme is getting along with other residents.

To help address these issues, the Community Scheme Ombudsman Service (CSOS) plays a role in improving the management of schemes, and in ensuring that the lifestyle of residents is not over-regulated by onerous or unfair rules, says property management company Whitfields.

The CSOS Act and its regulations regulate all community schemes and the conduct of parties living in such community schemes.

According to property management company, Whitfields, the challenge owners in community schemes usually revolve around:

  • Getting on with your neighbours and the way they choose to live and behave in their homes and in their use of common property, and
  • Getting on with your scheme executives and the methods they use to run the scheme, and especially how they deal with issues raised regarding people, the possible parking issues when available parking spaces in a scheme are at a premium, and the behaviour of your neighbour’s pets, and the impact they may have on your sanity.

“Internal dispute resolution methods should by now be in place in all community schemes, and the procedures should be incorporated into the conduct rules of the scheme,” said Whitfields.

“This may include a fines schedule for listed offences if an owner is found to be disobeying laws despite warnings and discussions provided these are reasonable, and that an equitable hearing process is provided in the rules and procedures followed are recorded in writing.”

If the internal dispute resolution matters fail, then the CSOS is the route that owners and scheme executives should follow:

  • Prayers for relief in respect of behavioural issues are found in the CSOS Act – Section 39.2, which can be found here.
  • The procedure to follow to raise a dispute is explained in CSOS Practise Directive No.1 of 2019, which can be found here.

“These orders can make interesting reading and can be very informative for scheme executives and owners alike as to the different disputes that arise in community schemes and how these are ruled on by adjudicators when conciliation fails,” said Whitfields.

Read: A look at South Africa’s planned land allocation system – and who does not qualify

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Don’t get on with your neighbours in a complex? Here are your options