The body of a woman named locally as Anne Leitrim, who was believed to have been aged in her 70s, was found when bailiffs, an estate agent and two locksmiths entered her ground floor property in Tolpuddle Gardens in Throop on Tuesday to recover unpaid debts.
After knocking on the door and receiving no response, they entered the property by climbing through two windows which had been left slightly open.
John Stanley, who was asked to identify the body, described the news as “horrifying.” Speaking to the BBC, he said: “After that amount of time that, why hasn’t anyone noticed?
“Because we thought she had moved out, she owned a car and the car disappeared so we automatically thought right, the lady has moved out and that was it."
Fellow resident Ruth Evans, who lived in the same building as Ms Leitrim, described feeling a sense of guilt at not checking to see if her neighbour was ok.
“I haven’t stopped shaking in two days", she said. "You feel so guilty that we didn’t sort of try knocking on the door or try to get into the flat or report it to somebody, but we genuinely thought she had moved away."
A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “Officers were called to a property in Tolpuddle Gardens, Bournemouth, 24 June 2014, to a report of a body found.
“The body is believed to be that of a woman in her seventies.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious and the coroner has been notified."
Ms Evans said the community was saddened by the whole incident. She added: “She was such a nice lady and to think that after five [sic] years nobody has missed her – that is so sad.”
The cause of Ms Leitrim's death is not yet known. Bournemouth's Coroner's Office said it could not comment until an inquest into her death is opened.