Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney ‘effect’ blamed for Wrexham rental crisis

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have created an 'effect' on locals finding rental accommodation, it is claimed - Cody Froggatt/Alamy

The success of Wrexham football club after being bought by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney has sparked a rental crisis as landlords are more inclined to let to tourist fans than locals, MPs have been told.

Reynolds, the 47-year-old Canadian-born actor, producer and businessman, is co-owner of Wrexham AFC, alongside American actor and writer McElhenney.

The Welsh club and the city were elevated to prominence in the Emmy award-winning TV streaming series Welcome to Wrexham.

But Deadpool star Reynolds is accused alongside It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator and star McElhenney of being the cause of a “huge decrease” in affordable renting in the city because of the club’s success.

Locals ‘missing out’

MPs were told by housing chiefs that landlords are opting out of renting flats to locals and instead choosing far more lucrative tourist lets for fans travelling from across the world to watch the team, spurred on by the incredible popularity of Welcome to Wrexham.

Meanwhile, landlords on Airbnb are using Reynolds’ image as well as Wrexham football club pictures to promote their £90-a-night rental for visitors from as far away as Australia and Brazil.

Tracey Hague, housing chief at Wrexham council, told MPs: “It’s what I refer to as the Rob and Ryan effect.”

She was giving evidence to the Welsh affairs committee into rental properties for ex-offenders - and warned it has slumped since the Hollywood pair snapped up the football club.

Landlords ‘can get more money’

Ms Hague said: “We’re finding that a lot of our private landlords are moving away from offering properties in the private renting sector and are now turning them into Airbnb, because they can get more money.

“Therefore, we have seen a huge decrease in the number of private sector accommodation that we can utilise.”

Wrexham have won back-to-back promotions to play in League One next season.

The Hollywood pair paid £2 million for the club three years ago - and have been hailed for transforming the fortunes of Wrexham.

David Bithell, the deputy leader of Wrexham council, defended the pair following the “Rob and Ryan” comment.

He said: “I have been a councillor for Wrexham borough council since 2004, and a fan of Wrexham AFC for over 40 years.

“I cannot remember a time when there was more excitement, promise and optimism.

‘We have unprecedented amounts of interest’

“The success of our football club is intrinsically linked to the success of Wrexham.

“In the past few short years, we have gone from being an oftentimes overlooked area of north Wales, to an international tourist destination - welcoming unprecedented amounts of interest and visitors and we’re rising together.

“We’ve all known that Wrexham is special, and now the world is also finding out. This the true Rob and Ryan effect.

“A comment was made at the Welsh affairs committee that had convened to examine the quality and availability of housing for prison leavers as it continues its inquiry into prisons in Wales.

“At that committee, a comment was made that I believe has been taken out of context and needs to be addressed.

“As a result of welcoming the volume of tourists as we do now, there has been a noticeable shift in businesses and individuals catering for the increasing number of visitors.

“This is of huge benefit to our local economy, especially the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors.

“Wrexham now faces similar housing issues to other more traditional tourist areas across Wales.

“Housing for homeless people is a statutory duty of all councils in Wales. It is also law that we must discharge our duty under legislation into the private or social rented sector.

“I hope this statement clarifies the situation and we look forward in anticipation to what the future brings as we work closely with the club on our joint ambitions.”

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