It is imperative that you fully inspect the apartment for preexisting damage. This may help to avoid losing part or all of your deposit due to damage caused by previous tenants. You have the right to ask for a written report from the landlord of repairs charged to the previous tenants. Take pictures of any damage you find e.g., carpet burn holes or stains, holes in the walls, etc. In addition, most landlords will provide you with a checklist which is to be returned within seven days of your moving into the rental unit. You should ensure that you have signed the checklist as well as your landlord and that you each retain a copy for your records. If you are not provided with a checklist, a printable version for your use is available here.
In addition to a damages checklist, a fire safety checklist can also be used to ensure your physical safety. For example, making sure that carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are in place and functioning properly may literally be a life saver. The National Fire Protection Association's checklist designed for students living off campus is provided for your use in the link above.