What Does an Ombudsman Do?

An ombudsman is an impartial, appointed official who investigates complaints lodged by private citizens against private entities or public institutions. These can include insurance service providers, credit bureaus, educational institutions, and even SARS. That being said the most important ombudsmen to note in the real estate industry are: the Credit Ombudsman, Ombudsman for Banking Services in South Africa, Ombudsman for Long-Term Insurance, the Community Schemes Ombud Service, and the Law Society of South Afroca (LSSA).

The ombudsman is there to make justice accessible to all people.

The ombudsman is there to make justice accessible to all people.

The Credit Ombud resolves complaints by those negatively affected by credit bureau information. For example, if a person is prevented from qualifying for a bond due to their credit rating where the credit rating has been unfairly lowered. 

OBSSA can assist with claims related to the products or services provided by many of the banking institutions in South Africa. There are however limitations, for example they are not able to assist with claims involving more than R 2 million. Be sure to check out their website for the full details.

The Ombudsman for Long-Term Insurance helps any person (policyholder, life insured, beneficiary, successor-in-title, premium payer) with all things related to long-term insurance. One of the most common complaints they’re able to help with is the non-payment of claims. This is important in the real estate industry because many bond holders are also life insurance policy holders. For a full list of insurance providers and complaints, check out their website.

CSOS is an entity of the Department of Human Settlements, Water & Sanitation. This ombudsman helps with regulating the conduct of parties within “living arrangements where there is a shared use of responsibility for land/buildings such as sectional title, homeowners’ associations, retirement housing schemes, share block companies and housing cooperatives”.

All legal practitioners are bound by a strict professional code. It defines appropriate, ethical conduct. The Law Society of South Africa handles complaints about the improper conduct of legal representatives. For example, if a deposit is placed into a trust account of an attorney and they abscond with the funds. The LSSA will be able to assist.

The different types of ombudsman help parties to come to agreement.

The different types of ombudsmen help parties to come to agreement and find justice.

Why Would I Need their Help?

The various ombudsmen are necessary because it’s not realistic to always settle disputes in a court of law. Court cases can take extremely long to resolve and can be very expensive… The ombudsmen facilitate mediation between parties. However, the ombudsmen may not be approached for assistance without evidence of trying to resolve the dispute with the other party first. If one is unable to resolve an issue directly with the other party, one may then reach out to one of the appropriate ombudsmen.

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