SYDNEY — Australian police Wednesday said they had discovered the skeletal remains of a woman in a Sydney house who had been dead for up to eight years.

She was found in a home long assumed by neighbours to be deserted, after a call from a sister-in-law -- her only living family -- from whom she had been estranged since a 2003 feud, according to reports.

"Upon entering an upstairs bedroom at the residence, police located skeletal remains on the floor," police said.

"The remains have not been formally identified. However, police believe they belong to a woman who would have been 87 next month."

Acting superintendent Zoran Dzevlan said the woman, named as Natalie Wood, appeared to have died "several years ago without anyone noticing".

"This serves as a reminder for people to keep a neighbourly eye on those who live in their area, especially the elderly," said Dzevlan.

The dead woman's electricity was cut off years ago and mail failed to stack up on the doorstep because her post was redirected to another address prior to 2003.

Even government agencies neglected the woman, said Police Minister Mike Gallacher, with the state welfare office continuing to send her pension cheques despite the fact they were never cashed.

The local council also failed to notice she had stopped paying rates.

Neighbours said they last saw Wood many years ago, but assumed she had moved away.