You probably didn't know this when you purchased your flat, but your terrible managing agent were - and still are - a signatory to your lease. While you're likely feeling stuck and tied up with them because of this tripartite agreement, there's no reason why you can't invoke your Right to Manage (RTM). This will allow you to employ a managing agent who is accountable to both you and all other tenants living there, and not your freeholder. This should save money in the long run since these managers should be less costly and would take care of routine maintenance issues that have been neglected for far too long.
You don't need permission from the freeholder or any other third party before exercising your RTM rights; it's completely non-adversarial if done correctly. RTM is an important right for leaseholders; it was introduced to give leaseholders much more control over their buildings and can only be challenged by the freeholder in very limited circumstances.
The application process is relatively straightforward, although it is important that the application is submitted correctly so as not to fall foul of the qualifying rules and criteria. In short, the criteria are that at least 50% of your fellow leaseholders will need to agree to take part, at least two thirds of the flats must be on leases of longer than 21 years from the date of issue, no more than 25% of the block may be used for non-residential purposes and the freeholder must not be a local authority. Where the block has four or fewer flats in it, the Right to Manage cannot be exercised if the freeholder owns one of the flats and lives in it as their main home. We will check the criteria at the outset to ensure that you qualify.
The mi-blox RTM bot will tell you whether your flat, and its building, is eligible for Right to Manage without having to sign up for anything. Quick and easy. Give it a try.