Housing Association Peabody has officially apologised for not realising their tenant was dead in her flat for over two years.
The skeletal remains of Sheila Seleaone, 58, were discovered on the sofa in her flat at Lord’s Court, St Mary’s Road, Nunhead, in February 2022.
The sell-by date on food in her fridge, a receipt in her bag and her last recorded contact, all indicate she died some time in August 2019, an inquest heard.
She hadn’t paid her rent since August 2019, and had her gas switched off in June 2020.
In a published statement, Peabody Chief Executive Ian McDermott said: “The report finds that in this case – while we followed processes and made 89 attempted contacts with Sheila – our teams worked in silos and operated independently of each other which meant that we didn’t “join the dots” and realise something was wrong.
“When taking action in this case, we didn’t ask the most fundamental question – is Sheila ok?”
When Sheila was found she was reduced to “bones and dust”, her skeleton still wearing blue pyjamas and a white top, police said.
The coroner, speaking at the inquest on Thursday, July 21, said a body lying undiscovered so for long was “difficult to fathom” in 2022.
Peabody commissioned an independent report in the wake of Ms Seleoane’s discovery.
The trust says it has “already made changes to some policies and are actively addressing all the recommendations in the report”.
Among the recommendations is joining up “neighbourhood management and welfare with repairs”. This is so teams can “join up the dots” when clues arise that a tenant is not okay.
There are also changes like ensuring tenant facing policies include “meaningful interaction” and the setting up of a digital “welfare dashboard”.
Peabody kept extracting rent from Ms Seleoane long after she was dead by successfully applying to have her rent taken from her Universal Credit in March 2020.
The report recommends that Peabody refrain from doing this unless “there has been direct contact and engagement with the tenant if possible”.