Our courts have held that a lessee is entitled to the full use and enjoyment of rental property and the landlord is under a duty to deliver and maintain that property in a condition reasonably fit for the purpose for which it is being let. This duty includes the obligation that lessees not be exposed to any unnecessary risk to life or property and that lessees should safely occupy the rental property. Accordingly, where a landlord has shown a wilful disregard for the safety of a tenant, exacerbated by a history of previous incidents, the landlord can be held negligent and accountable for damage suffered, if the landlord was aware of existing security issues and did not reveal such to the tenant or even deliberately concealed such facts from the new tenant.
That said, the tenant is also responsible to ensure that it inspected the property and is aware of what security measures are being provided by the landlord, before signing any lease. Where the existing security measures are not acceptable, additional measures should be agreed with the landlord and included in the lease agreement. Where tenants have inspected the existing security measures and accept such or fail to discuss any additional measures with the landlord, then the landlord will only be responsible for the maintenance of such measures and not for the implementation of additional measures, unless it can be shown that this represents unreasonable conduct.
In the present situation, particularly given the history of housebreakings at the property, Jennifer may have sufficient grounds to cancel the agreement of lease on the basis of the misrepresentation of the facts by the landlord if she can prove that the landlord was aware of the security issues and deliberately concealed such from her.