Got an update for you all,
Received the signed tenancy agreement, and it said we were paying the bills, as well as paying the LL to pay the bills for us! After calling the LL he realised what had gone wrong and admitted to it being his f*ck up. We are currently in the process of getting the tenancy agreement rewritten, so hopefully it is all sorted soon!
Thankyou so much for all of your help
I'm a bit late to this but as someone who has been letting to students for 20 years (Durham not Leicester), I'll add my two'pennorth.
Bills included (or bill free as one operator in Durham puts it) is popular with landlords in the student market because pricing is always set to more than recover costs and it helps avoid the scourge of landlording - damp and black mould caused by condensation through lack of heating and ventilation. Pricing in £pppw (£ per person per week) is pretty universal in the student market and the figure of £85pppw is shown for the rent in the estate agent's pictures.
Joint tenancies are also fairly normal in this market. If the tenants fall out and one decides to leave or someone gets chucked out of uni for failing exams it puts the onus on the joint tenants to sort the matter out and find a replacement tenant. This is rare and the main advantage of joint tenancies from the LL perspective is it adds a bit of peer pressure when it comes to paying the rent since all are jointly liable for the full amount. It also greatly simplifies the landlord's position on Council Tax.
To RedKite, please read the tenancy agreement before you sign it and make sure you are happy with it before signing. Unless you get into a dispute with your landlord you'll probably never need to read it again. But if things do get sticky then you will want the legal contract (for that is what it is) to be correct and not reliant on half-remembered text messages from six or nine months ago. If there's anything you don't understand about the agreement, ask the landlord, agent or whoever else has put it in front of you to sign. Any decent student landlord should be more than willing to answer any questions you might have. Like me, s/he will have heard them all before.
And enjoy your experience of living out.