PROSPECTIVE residents of retirement villages will be able to calculate the estimated costs of moving into a village before signing a contract, with the launch of a new online calculator by NSW Fair Trading.
Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said the online calculator would allow residents to "compare village prices and ultimately ensure they're not getting ripped off by unscrupulous operators".
"It can be overwhelming to assess retirement village costs due to a wide range of fees and charges that are often incurred at different times," he said.
"This tool puts consumers first by prompting prospective residents through a series of simple questions, which then generates easy-to-understand cost estimates."
There is both a basic and detailed calculator for people to utilise, depending on their circumstances.
The basic calculator is geared toward those considering retirement village living and provides an estimated cost based on location and budget.
The detailed calculator is for people who've got a village disclosure statement, giving them a more comprehensive outline of the entry, ongoing, and exit costs.
The tool is among a raft of reforms announced for the sector after a joint investigation by Fairfax Media and ABC's Four Corners uncovered questionable practices by retirement village operator Aveo.
Mr Kean said the calculator takes into account the recent changes to the Retirement Villages Regulation, which now requires a new standard table of fees and charges to be attached to the disclosure statement of any given village.
Minister for Ageing Tanya Davies said she was "very pleased" to see the calculator "now working to protect residents from confusing contracts, hidden fees, and unexpected costs".
Mr Kean said both the inquiry and Fair Trading compliance blitz - which formed part of the NSW Government's reform package - are also ongoing.
"Kathryn Greiner has begun her review of retirement villages across NSW, and will soon hold a series of community forums seeking feedback from the public," he said.
"The forums are an important opportunity for current and future residents to have their say, and share their experiences of retirement village living.
"As part of their state-wide blitz, NSW Fair Trading is auditing contracts from a number of retirement villages, to ensure compliance and whether further action is required."
The consultation forums will be held in Sydney, Hornsby, Ballina, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Wollongong, and Wagga Wagga during October.
Emailed or posted submissions need to be received by the Inquiry by October 31 to be considered.
- To make a submission to the inquiry, visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
- Calculator: www.rvcalculator.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au