Landlords want assurance that rent will be paid and paid on time. Credit reports are used since presumably they give a good idea of how someone has handled their obligations in the past. We don't have application fees in my area - that hurts - ouch! I think I would try to avoid those if possible.
You also should bring up your credit in advance. You should also get a letter from your current landlord (with their contact info) that describes your timely rent payment history. Get another letter from the landlord before that. The more you can do to put a landlord's mind at ease the better. I'm currently working with someone who needs to rent and has terrible credit and I'm nervous about it. I'm being upfront about her credit history and we're going to suggest that she set up an automatic withdrawal so that her rent is deposited in the landlord's account on the 30th.... more