My partner and I have recently begun renting a house in the UK. The rental is a high value one (around £4000/month) and the property is large, and fully detached. The initial tenancy is for 12 months. The property is rented basically unfurnished, with only a couple of items on the inventory, and our tenancy agreement grants us full use of it and its grounds.
The landlord lives abroad and operates through a local estate agent.
When we viewed the property, we noted that the two garages and an adjacent storage room (which they call "the basement") were largely filled with the landlord's personal items - old exercise equipment, construction materials left over from building renovation, crates of old toys etc. We were assured by the agent that anything we didn't want to use would be removed. We subsequently made an offer, signed the tenancy agreement and begun our tenancy.
We collected all of the landlord's leftover personal items into one of the two garages, and requested our agent to collect them as agreed. However, we were then told that the landlord did not wish for some of their items to be removed. The agent copied us in, very unprofessionally, on an email from the landlord, where she said she was very upset that the tenant had gone through their basement and moved their personal items - and that they were to be moved back into the basement.
We replied and made it very clear that we did not agree to store the landlord's personal items in any part of our property, and that this was not part of our tenancy agreement. We also stated that if the landlord wished to store their personal items in the basement or other parts of the property, then that would have to be through a separate arrangement with us. We gave a date by which we would like these items removed, and finally pointed out that we are very concerned that we do not have full use of the property that we are paying for.
The agent acknowledged this, but have nevertheless now removed only a selection of the landlord's items, telling us that the landlord has instructed them to return the rest to the basement. At this point one of our garages is half filled with crates of the landlord's personal rubbish and unable to be used as a garage. None of this stuff is mentioned on the inventory.
We would really prefer not to burn bridges with our landlord and the agent by resorting to legal threats at this stage if we can avoid it, as we really like the house and would like to continue living there - but we would also really not give up some of our limited space to store the landlord's crap for free!
What are our options in this situation, and what's our legal position? I have come across some sources stating that this sort of situation counts as partial eviction, due to the landlord denying us use of / access to some of the property - is that accurate? Is there some way we can convey this to them, gently enough not to cause a major rift? If it doesn't work out amicably, what's the best recourse we can have?