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Community Schemes Ombud Service or the courts?

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One of the main purposes of Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) was to allow for a much cheaper alternative to the heavy cost of going to the courts.

Quite frankly we find that the magistrates seem to interpret the law in a very biased manner towards a defaulting owner, so it becomes a bit of a risk to go to the courts unless you go to the High Court.

The mandate of the CSOS is to: regulate, monitor and quality assure scheme governance documentation; develop and provide a dispute resolution service; provide training for conciliators, adjudicators and other employees of the CSOS; and take custody of, preserve and provide public access to scheme governance documentation.

But is the CSOS any better?

I am not sure that it is.

You don’t get much in the way of feedback and cases just take for ever.

While the eventual outcome may be better than the decisions of the courts, they just take so long.

It is most frustrating.

My son owns a penthouse in Bryanston, but the trustees will not allow him to install an air-conditioner in his flat.

They say that it will be too noisy.

Sounds a bit crazy for me – an aircon unit would be a standard in any R2.5 million flat, at least in my mind.

What do you think?

But even serious cases take forever with the CSOS.

What about a scheme where the chairperson earns 50 percent of the levy income, getting paid to do the gardens or one where the accounts are so suspect that they really need to be re-audited?

They will not even give an opinion as to whether an owner can unilaterally withdraw from a body corporate and run his portion of the building without reference to the body corporate as a whole.

A body corporate cannot wait for months for a decision as to whether or not a tenant or owner must pay for the electricity that they have used or whether they are making too much noise or their dog barks too much.

It is most frustrating that cases are not just attended to promptly.

The idea of the CSOS is great in theory but like much legislation does not work in practice.

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia.

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Property

Gas it out, give Eskom the boot

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ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION . . . Gas can be used for heating water, ovens and stoves in general

Electricity has simply become unaffordable. And, as if that’s not enough, it’s not always available.

In recent months, the power utility has been churning out media statements explaining the loss of generation at various power stations and pleading with consumers to use electricity sparingly.

While the updates are important, consumers naturally expect electricity to be available whenever they turn on the switch.

The recent tariff hike of over seven percent in Mangaung Metro has proved quite steep to most households and it might not be far-fetched to expect another round of hikes in the coming months.

I strongly believe it’s now time to seriously consider other practical solutions to end this double inconvenience of high prices and inavailabilty of electricity.

Alternatives like solar and gas could ease the problem quite significantly but it comes at a cost.

In fact, the installation costs might be quite discouraging, but once the systems are in place, there are no major expenses to be incurred – this including solar electricity, solar water heaters and gas.

Electrical geysers chew electricity while solar heaters are effective and efficient.

Natural gas is also a realistic alternative.

The system is cheaper to install by far and gas cylinders normally last for months.

Gas can be used for heating water, ovens and stoves in general.

Larger systems can also have central heating.

Gas is readily available and suppliers have delivery services for 10kg cylinders and above.

And unlike electricity, gas geysers only heat water on demand, which means that you don’t sit around with pre-heated water in your geyser.

It only heats on demand.

And when cooking, pans heat up quickly and, importantly, cool down when the gas is switched off.

It is a different type of heat and is great for making oven bread.

Worth a try!

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia.

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Langenhoven Park chain store robbed

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SHOP ROBBERY . . . The Walk Centre in Langenhoven Park

Bainsvlei police in Bloemfontein have launched a manhunt for suspects involved in business robbery at a chain store at The Walk Centre in Langenhoven Park on Wednesday.

The complainant, who is the manager of the shop, told the police that two men walked into the shop pretending to be customers before robbing the shop.

“Suddenly they pulled out firearms and accosted the four cashiers and instructed them to walk back into the complainant’s office,” police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thabo Covane said in a statement.

“The suspects robbed the shop of different brands of cellular telephones as well as an undisclosed amount of money, and fled the scene in a white Renault Clio with registration number HRT 558 FS,” he added.

Police were called to the scene and they are now investigating a case of business robbery.

Covane said anyone who might have information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects may contact Captain Thapelo Motseki on 082 466 8405 or call the SAPS Crime Stop number: 08600 10111. Alternatively, information can be sent via MySAPS App. – Staff Reporter

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Property

Duets are sectional title too

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A duet unit is by definition a two-unit sectional title scheme. Or at least is supposed to be.

However, I have seen these mini schemes with up to five units. Not sure how they get away with it.

Either way they are still mini sectional title schemes and have to be treated like their big brothers – but they aren’t.

Usually, each owner has their own rates account, own water and electricity account and just does their own thing. But that is where the complications come in.

Some owners have a bond and thus insurance. Some bought cash and forgot.

A body corporate is supposed to have a body corporate policy on all the buildings.

Let’s say that there is a fire in an insured unit but it also results in the building down of an uninsured unit.

And because this is a body corporate and all parties are trustees that are expected to have a body corporate policy, they will be equally negligent.

That means that the owner will have to pay 50 percent — or whatever the Participation Quota (PQ) ratio is — of the uninsured unit owner’s loss.

Would you like to be in that position? I don’t think so.

The same applies to maintenance.

So, if your neighbour thinks that his roof needs to be replaced, you will be liable for that same PQ part of the replacement cost.

The trouble is that nothing will happen while everyone is happy and things are running smoothly, but when there is a major problem, people look for solutions to their financial crisis.

It’s not worth it.

Run your mini scheme properly and contact Community Schemes Ombud Service if your neighbour won’t.

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia.

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