At the start of your tenancy your landlord/agent should give you an inventory – which lists all the fixtures and fittings in the property, and the condition that they're in. It is the only proof you will have at the end of the tenancy that you are not to blame for existing damage and evidence if there is a dispute over the return of your deposit.
Check that the inventory lists every item and whether there is any existing damage (eg. broken furniture, stains on the carpet etc.) The inventory should be signed and dated by the landlord (or agent) and tenant, who should each keep a copy. If your landlord doesn’t give you one, draw up your own and ask your landlord/agent to sign it and give them a copy. If your landlord won’t sign it, ask an independent witness to sign and date it, and send a copy to the landlord by recorded delivery.
Any damage that occurs to the property during the tenancy should be promptly reported, in writing (keep a copy) to the landlord/agent. If you cause any damage, for example, break a vase etc, and want to replace it, always ask your landlord and update the inventory accordingly and keep receipts.
It's a good idea to take photos of the condition of the property when you move in (using the date setting on your camera or if this function is not available include a newspaper showing the date) and when you leave.
For more information about inventories please speak to an Advisor.