A housing group said they were “devastated” and “sorry for our part” not realizing one of their tenants had been dead in her apartment for two and a half years.
Sheila Seleoane, 58, was last heard from in August 2019, the last month she paid her rent.
When police stormed into her apartment in Peckham in February 2022 – after neighbors noticed the balcony door swinging open following Storm Eunice – her body had to be identified by dental records.
The resident reported the presence of maggots and flies to Peabody Group “within weeks” of the August date she was last confirmed alive, but the housing association closed the case on the following month.
“We didn’t ask the most basic question – is Sheila okay?” Peabody CEO Ian McDermott said.
“I’m so sorry this happened,” he said. “We have apologized to the family. We are deeply sorry for what happened.
“Even so, I think the biggest apology goes to the residents of Lord Court. They told us something was wrong.”
Six months after Ms. Seleoane last paid her rent, Peabody applied to pay Universal Credit directly.
The Housing Association has not refunded the amount but has pledged to do so.
According to an independent investigation commissioned by Peabody, the COVID-19 lockdown “exacerbated the time period in which bodies remained undiscovered, but was not the cause of the delay”.
Peabody said they had documented 89 attempts to contact Ms. Seleoane, but realized that these efforts were substantive and none of them were successful.
In October 2020, the housing association contacted the Metropolitan Police to perform a welfare check on Ms Seleoane and an officer falsely told them she was safe and well.
The force said the employee has since left the force but will face a professional standards investigation if they are still employed.
A coroner’s investigation this week found that police and Peabody missed many opportunities to discover her body.
Dr Julian Morris gave an open verdict and said: “Lying undetected in all likelihood for two years is puzzling in 2022.”