Prosecutors say landlords handed out cash to try to make housing violations go away as part of a sweeping bribery case involving property owners and inspectors.
More than a dozen defendants were brought into court as arraignments began Tuesday in the case.
NBC 4 New York first reported Monday that the landlords were expected to be charged.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters and NYPD officials discussed the case at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
They said their two-year investigation yielded the arrests of 11 New York City Department of Buildings employees and five New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development employees.
The charges include bribery, bribe receiving, falsifying business records, tampering with public records and official misconduct.
The city's buildings and housing preservation departments had no immediate comment.
One landlord is charged with handing $600 in cash to an undercover officer posing as a housing inspector.
Another landlord is accused of giving the same undercover officer $2,500 in an envelope after asking how much it would cost to have violations removed.
Vance said Tuesday that the cases "demonstrate that the same surging demand that drives the pace of development can inspire the taking of shortcuts, and the taking of bribes."
Peters said the investigation revealed a "widespread network of corruption in the construction industry and among the city workers charged with keeping that industry safe."
Court documents and statements made in court indicate that the 11 arrested buildings department employees, who ranged in roles from clerks to chiefs, allegedly accepted bribes in Manhattan and Brooklyn in excess of $400,000.
The Department of Buildings investigation began when a department buildings worker came forward, and Housing Preservation and Development auditors found red flags and notified the Department of Investigation, authorities said.
The Department of Buildings has started a new compliance program in light of the arrests, and re-inspected all properties in question to ensure that dangerous conditions have either been fixed or dangerous sites shut down, officials said. The HPD has reinstated all violations connected to the probe.