Solicitors are being asked to help identify gaps in the law exposed by the Grenfell Tower fire, in which at least 80 people died when fire broke out at the 24-storey block in June.

The universities of Kent and Bristol are conducting research for Shelter, a homelessness charity, about the challenges tenants face to ensure their homes are safe.

Shelter wants to identify: gaps in current legislation which may make housing less safe or prevent residents from remedying problems; where the lack of enforcement undermines existing legal protections; and legal remedies to strengthen tenants' protection.

Following the fire the charity and the Housing Law Practitioners Association worked with North Kensington Law Centre to provide free daily drop-in advice clinics. Alison Mohammed, director of services at Shelter, told an all-party parliamentary group meeting on legal aid that many residents wanted to know their housing options.

The universities are seeking evidence from tenants, social landlords, lawyers and other professionals. The survey's findings will be included in an anonymised report for Shelter.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chair of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, is expected to hold a preliminary hearing this month. Last month the prime minister, Theresa May, accepted the retired Court of Appeal judge's recommended terms of reference for the inquiry.

The terms will cover the fire, the building's history, its most recent refurbishment, the state of building and fire regulations, and aspects of the relationship between the tower's residents and the local authority, including the days immediately following the fire. Local and central government response in the days following the fire will also be included.

However, London law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which is representing some of the victims, warned that the terms may not satisfy the government's legal obligations to investigate the full circumstances of the tragedy.

The universities' survey closes at the end of this month.