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22nd Jul 2022

Woman lay dead in flat for over two years but landlord ‘cut off gas and kept taking rent’, inquest heard

Danny Jones

Woman dead in flat for 2 years charged rent and had gas cut off

Both police and the housing agent have come under fire for their negligence in the case of Sheila Seleoane

A woman who was found lying dead in her London flat for more than two and a half years is said to have had her gas cut off by her landlord despite them continuing to take rent and other payments.

Sheila Seleoane was found on the floor of her home in Peckham this year after first been reported missing by her neighbours in June 2020. However, an inquest into her death this week heard that the 61-year-old probably died in August 2019.

Southwark Coroners Court heard that the former medical secretary last paid her rent in August 2019 but that her housing agent, a company called Peabody, submitted an application to have the outstanding money taken out of her incoming benefit payments.

MailOnline reported that the application was approved in March 2020 and the housing association took multiple monthly rent payments even though no one had been in contact with the already deceased tenant. Peabody cut off Seleoane’s gas supply when they asked to do a gas check and got no response.

After two checks by authorities who visited the home in October 2020 and saw no need to enter, Seleoane was found in a “skeletal state” by an officer on 18 February 2022.

Her body was too decomposed for a proper post-mortem and so her cause of death is yet to be determined.

The inquest also found that police wrongly informed Peabody that Seleoane was found “safe and well” on the second check.

Director of neighbourhoods at Peabody, Wells Chomutare, said: “We had the picture, we did not then join the dots in order to paint the picture.

“We are really not expected to force entry unless it’s a very extreme situation.”

Assistant coroner Dr Julian Morris delivered an open conclusion to Seleoane’s death, remarking: “Any death is sad, but to lie undetected for all likelihood for over two years is difficult to fathom in 2022.”

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