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would they contact the landlord of your previous address when assessing whether to let you have one?
the only time rent arrears would affect a credit application is if, after leaving your previous property, your landlord issued a county court claim against you for the arrears and you were landed with a CCJ. But assuming he has your forwarding address you'd know if he'd done this.
If you want to check your credit rating you can do this for £2 via experian.
The decision is made without contacting anyone other than credit reference agencies.
I hope I'm not shattering any illusions here, but there isn't a guy at a desk holding your application going "Hmm, should we give him a card? Should we?".
I like to think there's a group of high-level decision makers in an ornate boardroom, wearing monacles, drinking brandy and saying "hmmm, this chap seems to have a noble record indeed. Let him have credit!"