Why CSOS is the most cost effective way to collect outstanding levies

By Auren Freitas dos Santos

On 27 May 2020, I drafted an article for the Paddocks Press: Volume 15, Issue 5, explaining how community schemes can maximise the chances of recovering unpaid levies via the Community Schemes Ombud Service (“the CSOS”). The article can be read here.

One of the readers posted the following useful question in response to the article –

I am led to believe that the reason why the normal legal process and Courts are still so much used, is because of the less than stellar response in dealing with cases, and particularly timeously so, by various Ombud offices.

Can you possibly in a follow-up article or in Q & A perhaps, comment on the veracity of the above allegation and give an indication of ACTUAL real-life turnaround times from the Ombud, please?”

I am pleased to report that in a recent adjudication order issued by the Gauteng Regional Office, the CSOS has finally proven itself to be a very useful and cost effective way to collect outstanding levies.

The respondent in this matter was in arrears with his levies in the amount of R19 310.52, despite written demands being sent to him by the body corporate. The trustees of a body corporate decided to make an application against a defaulting owner for the payment of outstanding levies in terms of section 39(1)(e) of the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act.

The application was referred to the CSOS on 21 December 2020 and the adjudication order was issued by the CSOS on 14 March 2021. The entire process took just under three months to reach finality. 

The adjudicator found that the respondent owed the body corporate the amount of R19 310.52 in respect of unpaid levies and ancillary amounts charged by the body corporate. The respondent was ordered to pay the arrear levies to the body corporate in six equal monthly instalments with the first payment to commence within 30 days from date of delivery of the order. The adjudicator also ordered that this payment arrangement would not affect the usual regular monthly levies and ancillary payments required to be made by the respondent.

The most useful part of this process is that the adjudication order can be enforced as if it were a judgment of the magistrate’s court in terms of section 56(1) of the CSOS Act and the clerk of the court must, on lodgment of a copy of the order, register it as an order in such Court.

Therefore, should the respondent fail to comply with the adjudication order, the body corporate must file with the clerk of the magistrate’s court the following documentation:

  1. a copy of the adjudicator’s order certified by the Ombud as a true copy, if the original cannot be located;
  2. any relevant form/s required by the magistrate’s court to be completed, including an Enforcement Notice issued by the CSOS; and
  3. the court order to be endorsed by the clerk of the magistrate’s court.

Once the clerk of the magistrate’s court has issued the order and allocated a case number, the body corporate may submit the order to the Sheriff of Court for further execution, including the attachment of the respondent’s movable and immovable property to satisfy the order. 

This is a very encouraging development because it means that the collection of outstanding levies is now a much more cost effective and efficient process which should greatly improve the financial management of community schemes.

Specialist Community Scheme Attorney (LLB, LLM), Auren Freitas dos Santos, is a Director of The Advisory, a boutique law firm specialising exclusively in community schemes law. Contact him at www.theadvisory.co.za or email info@theadvisory.co.za if you require any assistance with lodging a successful application at the CSOS for the recovery of unpaid contributions.

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