The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership Act of 2012 (HEARTH Act) creates a voluntary, alternative land-leasing process for Tribes by amending 25 U.S.C. § 415.
Once their governing Tribal leasing regulations have been submitted and approved by the Secretary of the Interior, Tribes can negotiate and approve surface leases under their HEARTH Act regulations without further approvals by the Secretary.
Specifically, the HEARTH Act authorizes Tribes to execute agricultural, business, and wind and solar leases of Tribal trust lands for a primary term of 25 years and up to two renewal terms of 25 years each. Leases of Tribal trust lands for residential, recreational, religious, or educational purposes may be executed for a primary term of up to 75 years. Wind energy evaluation leases (WEELs) may be executed for a primary term of three years and up to one renewal term of three years.
What You Need
An original cover letter that includes:
A request for review and approval of the regulations under the HEARTH Act
Contact information for parties with decision-making authority for the regulations (e.g., Tribal officers, legal counsel)
Any special circumstances related to submission of the regulations (e.g., an urgent need for approval; a unique provision included in the regulations)
One original of the regulations that have been approved by a Tribe and signed by the authorized Tribal parties, along with a Tribal Resolution validating that the documents are originals and not copies. If the Tribe submits copies or the submission is incomplete in any way, the regulations will be considered unofficial and not be reviewed or forwarded for decision until the completed originals are received.
How to Apply
The Tribe must submit a complete HEARTH Act Leasing Regulation application package to the Division of Real Estate Services (DRES) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Central Office.
The initial submission should not be emailed, mailed, or hand delivered to a BIA Regional Office or Agency.
Applicants are required to submit completed application packages via postal mail.
Write a cover letter with all the required information.
Create one original set of the regulations that have been approved by your Tribe and signed by the authorized Tribal parties.
Develop a Tribal Resolution stating that the documents outlining regulations are originals and not copies.
Gather the required documentation and mail them to:
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Trust Services, Division of Real Estate Services, 1849 C Street, NW, MS 4620-MIB, Washington, D.C. 20240
After receiving your documentation in the mail, the HEARTH Act Coordinator will request that your Tribe email PDF and Word versions of the submission as well.
Review and approval steps normally process in 30-day increments.
After receiving a Tribe's initial submission for HEARTH Act approval, the Tribe will receive a confirmation email that the package was received at DRES BIA Central Office. In addition, an acknowledgement letter will be sent to the Tribe.
To meet the goal to approve or deny regulations within 120-days from receipt, strict timelines are incorporated into the process.
Review and approval step normally process in 30-day increments:
- Days 1-30: Initial internal review
- Days 31-60: External review and modifications
- Days 61-90: Final review
- Days 91-120: Surname and approval
When the regulations are in the Tribe’s possession for modification or further consideration of the review comments, the 120-days is paused until the Tribe submits their modifications to the BIA.
Tribes will be notified in writing of approval or disapproval. Tribal HEARTH Act regulations are effective upon written notification of approval by the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs.
Approval determinations are published in the Federal Register. Disapproval determinations will identify the basis for the disapproval.
An incomplete determination will identify the required documents not included in the initial Tribal submission.
Once a Tribe’s leasing regulations are approved, the Tribe is no longer required to obtain the Secretary’s approval for leases executed under the HEARTH Act. However, the Tribe still must provide their BIA Agency or Regional Office with copies of official documents for recordation purposes (e.g., leases, amendments, assignments, and leasehold mortgages).