It is really important that a thorough inventory check is carried out when you move into your new property to avoid later disputes over any possible damage in the property. It is standard practice for the landlord of the property to already have made up an inventory list but you should never just accept what has been stated and should check, preferably with the landlord, that what is stated is correct.
The inventory should itemise all of the fixtures, fittings and furnishings in the property and their current condition. Therefore any red wine stains etc already on carpets should be listed as otherwise you may find the landlord trying to take money from your deposit to pay for damage that was there before you moved in.
The inventory can also prove helpful towards the end of the tenancy as it will give you a check list which you can use to ensure that everything in the property has been left in the same general state, apart for signs of fair wear and tear, thus reducing the likelihood that any money will be taken from your deposit.
If your landlord is present on move in day, carry out the inventory check with them present. This will mean that they can sign off on any changes you make to the inventory list, this will then act as an accurate record of the state of the property and help you to combat any later claims that pre-existing damage was caused by yourself or your housemates. You may also want to take pictures at the time to give a better idea later on of the general state of the property. Always email these to the landlord afterwards so that it can be shown that you did take them on the day that you moved in.
If the landlord is not present you and your housemates can carry out the checks on your own. Note down any possible issues with items in the property and take pictures of their general state. Once this has been done email your amendments to the landlords inventory, or your own inventory list, to your landlord with the pictures included stating that this was the state of the property when moving in and that you hope that they agree to the changes that have been made.