In what sense?
The general sense.
By renting a house, the owner is paying for all of the upkeep and services required to maintain a property so the renter does not need to do so. On top of this, they assume 100% of the risk on property prices and loses flexibility as far as job relocation, etc is concerned.
Not always, if you rent a home, you more than likely will need to pay for water/electricity/heat/landscaping.
The issue specifically is that the Renter is always paying current market rates for housing, always. As a homeowner over time, my fixed mortgage is less than my property tax.
Stack on top of that the costs associated with buying a new home (inspection fees, loan fees, title fees, etc) and there is a huge productivity benefit for the renters as they can move to where employees are needed with minimal transaction costs.
If the renter rents for >9yrs they are better off buying.
This is no different than providing a rental car service - there is a huge productivity boost by having this service available vs. having to buy a car in each city you visit, use public transportation, or take taxis/ride-sharing.
Again for short-term, then yes its not a bad deal, long term renting is a loss.
Someone said this to me and I have never found it to be false, "You will never find a rich renter."
they assume 100% of the risk on property prices
Yes they also get 100% of the profit, while you pay off their mortgage; after ~9yrs of being a landlord, even the rent becomes profitable.
I will close with this, the more renters in a community, the poorer the community, both financially, and spiritually. Because renters have no skin in the game.