A woman was allegedly raped in the front garden of a property in Addiscombe on Saturday night.
Police and London Ambulance were called to Outram Road at 11.30pm to reports of an assault.
A 36-year-old man was arrested at the scene of the alleged offence and taken into police custody.
A police spokesman said the victim and her alleged attacker did not know each other, but may have met a short while earlier.
Residents spoke of their shock at waking on Sunday to see a large white tent erected in front of the house, which is at the junction with Lower Addiscombe Road.
It had been set up to prevent evidence being contaminated.
A man who lives in one of the flats said: “I came home at about 11pm on Saturday and everything was normal.
“The next thing I knew I looked outside and there was a police car and a tent in the front garden. It is shocking.”
Patrick Ratnaraja, who lives nearby, saw the police tent and cordon on Sunday morning. He said: “I am really shocked to hear it could be a rape and that this has happened so close to where I live.
“Normally it’s a safe area. I have often seen women walking on their own at night without a problem.”
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “I was home on Saturday night, but I didn’t notice anything unusual.
“My bedroom is at the front of the house, but I didn’t hear a thing.
“I noticed there was a cordon and a policeman standing in front of a tent on Sunday, but to hear a woman could have been raped there is awful – what a horrible world.”
Morgan Towner of Long Lane, Addiscombe, has been charged with rape.
He appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Monday and was remanded in custody to appear at Croydon Crown Court on February 19.